NCAA agrees to eligibility relief plan for Spring sports athletes


Photo contributed by: CSUB Athletics

CSUB Baseball team celebrates walk off victory against Washington State Cougars on Feb 15, 2020 at Hardt Field.

Chris Burdick, Sports Co-Editor

  In light of many major college conferences, including the Western Athletic Conference, cancelling all sports for the foreseeable future, the NCAA has stepped up to do their part for the student athletes who have lost the chance to play this season. 

  The NCAA Division I Council met today in order to discuss and vote on some sort of relief plan to soothe the worries of colleges and athletes across the country who have lost this season to the COVID-19 outbreak. Earlier in the month, it was agreed by the council that some sort of relief was necessary, and it wasn’t long before the council agreed on the terms of how to go about this decision. 

  Per NCAA rules, athletes are only allowed a total four seasons of competition during a five-year period, but this decision will allow for some leeway in that regard. According to the NCAA media release on Monday, this plan allows schools to self-apply for special circumstance waivers that would restore one of those seasons of competition to players who competed during this shortened spring season. 

  Financial aid rules were also adjusted by the Council so teams could carry more members on scholarship in order to accommodate those seniors who do decide to stay. Schools are provided more flexibility in term of awarding scholarship money to those seniors who have exhausted eligibility, and will be allowed to use the NCAA’s Student Assistance Fund to pay for scholarships if needed.   

  This decision by the NCAA Council will allow schools to effectively apply for a one-year extension of eligibility for all spring sport athletes and allow those athletes who have reached the end of their five-year limit, specifically seniors, to come back next year and play if they choose to. The ruling is putting ease into the minds of CSUB senior athletes who lost their final season to this shutdown. 

  “I’m really excited because I felt like this year I was making a lot of progress to where I wanted to end, and I sadly had that chance was taken away from me due to the coronavirus,” CSUB senior Macey Mills of the women’s golf team said after hearing she will be given the opportunity to continue her college career. Mills also stated that in order to continue her eligibility, she plans to move on to her master’s degree and is excited for the opportunity to follow the Roadrunners to the Big West Conference. 

  The NCAA plan also allows some added relief to college baseball teams in terms of roster space. Unlike the rest of spring sports, college baseball rosters are not set based on the number of scholarships given, but rather has a hard roster cap of 35 players per team. The NCAA has addressed the issue of possibly compacted teams by allowing those returning seniors to be exempt from the teams 35-player roster limit. 

  Senior pitcher Noah Cordova of the Roadrunners baseball team is one of many seniors excited to return next season. “I think it’s good because guys who thought they would never play again are able to come back and play another year.” Cordova also said that he is excited to welcome in the new recruits as well, and that the opportunity to make the roster larger means that the team will be bringing a “bigger group of guys together.” 

  Overall, the NCAA’s decision has sparked hope in the student athletes who felt they had their final season stolen by this virus outbreak – hope that they can and will continue their college careers and finish those careers the way they had intended. 

  “I think it’s great. I think it’s a positive move for student athletes, which should always be the focus,” CSUB Director of Athletics Dr. Kenneth ‘Ziggy’ Siegfried said about the NCAA’s decision. “The NCAA has responded in the right way. They’ve done it quickly to make sure there is no doubt lingering out there and that student athletes can make their decision based off of this passing.” 

  Unfortunately, this deal will not carry over to winter sports like basketball, who lost their entire post season to this pandemic. According to the NCAA media release, “Council members declined to extend eligibility for student-athletes in sports where all or much of their regular seasons were completed.” But the decision is still welcomed in the Roadrunners eyes as they continue to look forward to new horizons in the Big West Conference next season. 

  “I’m excited for our student athletes,” Siegfried said. “Still heartbroken that they are having to deal with this, but I’m glad that they will have more opportunities to make more memories.” 

  Now the decision lies in the hands of CSUB senior athletes. Will they utilize these new waivers and return next season for their final year of college eligibility, or have they planned to move on with their lives? Either way, it’s nice knowing that there is some light in this unfortunate time for spring athletes.