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LINKS: A Fifth of Jagan? Will Basketball Get Eligibility Relief?

COVID-19 ended the NCAA season early; could winter sport seniors get one more bite at the collegiate apple?

Xavier v Georgetown Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

The season ending for the Georgetown Hoyas’ is but a small speck on the sports horizon thanks to a universal shut-down of athletic events from pee-wee to pro. Georgetown Athletics issued a statement echoing national cancellation policies and ceasing all spring athletic events and practices. Yikes.

The premature end to collegiate competition has left many senior student-athletes without closure, among other things. It appears that 4th-year competitors in spring sports, which were pretty much all canceled yesterday, will be getting an additional year of competition, called “eligibility relief.”

This is a good first step and hopefully a unanimous decision. As a former swimmer for Georgetown, I have first-hand knowledge of the devastation one feels when their competitive athletics career is over, and I got four full years—however, you don’t necessarily mind saying “goodbye” to practice.

I hope administrators also appreciate that, at least in swimming, merely delaying a season finale several weeks, while not allowing group practices, is a recipe for awful performances and probable injury. Safe to say that there’s at least one winter sport that needs a full team season in order to provide a well-deserved fourth playoff/championship experience.

Still, I see no reason why seniors from all winter sports, including basketball, don’t deserve that as well.

Just like with the spring sports’ “details of eligibility relief” being finalized at a later date, after administrators tend to their own flocks, there will have to be several square pegs nailed through round holes. For instance, the fifth years presumably would have to take classes (e.g., pursuing a second Bachelor’s or a graduate degree). Fourth year graduate transfers would probably still operate flexibly, but graduate transfers using their eligibility relief would likely need additional scrutiny if changing schools for a specific academic program.

Not to mention, with granting a fifth year there would be ripple effects on recruiting—especially with recruiting temporarily suspended for now. Some top prospects might be lining up a prep school year if rumors of eligibility relief pick up momentum.

Here are the links:

NCAA will provide eligibility relief for student-athletes in spring sports | Omaha

This comes a day after the NCAA announced it was canceling all remaining spring championships, and conferences followed suit in canceling all competition for the rest of the season. The NCAA’s announcement did not address winter sports, which also had championships canceled.

The NCAA said in the “coming days and weeks” it would work through details of the eligibility relief and additional NCAA rules that must be addressed.

”Council leadership agreed that eligibility relief is appropriate for all Division I student-athletes who participated in spring sports,” the NCAA said in a press release.

NCAA panel backs spring athlete eligibility relief | ESPN

In an email to a large group of administrators and other parties working in college athletics, committee chair Dr. Grace Calhoun, the athletic director at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote that the committee will “also discuss issues related to seasons of competition for winter sport student-athletes who were unable to participate in conference and NCAA championships.”

It’s unclear what options, if any, will be considered for winter sports athletes. Because the season was nearly complete, there are significant logistical challenges. However, a source told ESPN that the committee members wanted to discuss the issue further.

Assuming the eligibility relief recommendations from the committee go into effect — which is expected — the NCAA will need to adjust its rules about scholarship limits. Those details are expected to be ironed out in the coming weeks..

”I think for the spring sports athletes, it’s a good idea. I like the idea of some kind of a make-good there and that’s the way to do it,’’ Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman said Friday.

NCAA Basketball: Should Seniors Get Another Year of Eligibility Because of Coronavirus? | Sports Book Review

Bringing seniors back would be a logistics nightmare for the NCAA. With freshmen coming in to potentially replace these seniors, scholarships would almost have to be extended. There is also an issue with what you would do for underclassmen. After all, their seasons were stolen from them as well. If seniors get another year of eligibility, shouldn’t all athletes? Even the redshirt freshmen who sat out a season that basically wouldn’t count.

You also have to grapple with the fact that the NCAA doesn’t have the best record for working in the students’ best interests. In a typical work environment, accommodations would be made, but they are still going to lose a ton of money by not having March Madness, so allowing more scholarships and eligibility would hurt the bottom line. They would almost certainly have to justify it by expecting more revenue from a crazy college season.

Should NCAA grant seniors an extra year? | Spartan Avenue

Allow the seniors to come back for one more season so they can get a proper send-off and just allow programs to keep more scholarship players for one year. Seems simple, right?

Will it happen? I’m doubtful in that regard, but it’s something that wouldn’t hurt the NCAA, so why not give these kids who have dedicated four years to the sport another opportunity to come back and play with their brothers for a chance at a national title?

It only seems fair, especially since this is the only senior class in history that has seen careers cut way too short because of a pandemic. An unprecedented global crisis calls for an unprecedented move by the NCAA.

Multiple coaches considering granting senior players an extra season of eligibility | USA Today

Per CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander, there are two coaches who have plans to propose to their conferences and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) a one-time exemption to allow seniors to return for another season of eligibility if they choose to due to the drastic circumstances that led to the cancellation of the NCAA tournaments.

Although the coaches remain anonymous in Norlander’s report, one coach may be Oklahoma State University’s Mike Boynton, who at least appears to support the idea of granting senior players an extra season of eligibility on their athletic scholarships.

NCAA Division I Council Coordination Committee Agrees Eligibility Relief is Appropriate For Spring Sports; Winter Sports Still Uncertain | Swimming World Magazine

The NCAA has not provided any clarification on what will happen to those winter sports, like basketball or swimming and diving, athletes who missed out on competing at their respective championships that were set for the month of March.

Although it appears that a decision may be made sometime in the near future regarding that.

The NCAA announced on Thursday that it would be cancelling the remainder of the winter sports championships, including the entirety of the March Madness basketball tournaments and the Division I & III swimming and diving championships...

There has been an online petition going around since the news of the cancellation, calling for the NCAA to grant another year of eligibility to those affected by the coronavirus cancellations.

Coronavirus ended their careers. Now college athletes are fighting to get them back | Yahoo!

And there is certainly money floating around college athletics. “The NCAA should pay for that extra year,” Auriemma said. “‘Well that’s gonna put us over the scholarship limit.’ Doesn’t matter, it’s a one-time exception.”

If the NCAA and schools cry bankrupt, a potential half-measure could be re-granting eligibility but not forcing schools to guarantee another year of scholarship. “That would be better than doing nothing,” Wahrman admits. “But it would be hard for those seniors who are on full scholarship. I think that option would prevent a lot of seniors from taking a fifth year because not a lot of college students have that much money to spend.”

Another question pertains to the juniors and sophomores and freshmen, some of whom were similarly distraught on Thursday. Do they get that year of eligibility back as well? If so, elevated scholarship limits would have to remain elevated for four years. If not, many would feel wronged.

NCAA to suspend recruiting amid coronavirus threat | 247 Sports

The NCAA is reportedly making the call to suspend recruiting for all sports both on- and off-campus until at least April 15. The news comes one day after the NCAA announced that it had canceled all winter and spring championship events due to the growing threat of COVID-19, more commonly known as coronavirus.

According to a source, head coaches at one university received a notification on Friday that all sports were prohibited from any on-campus or off-campus recruiting contacts or evaluations until at least the April 15 date, per the NCAA. The move is said to be effective immediately.