NCAA grants extra year of eligibility to winter athletes

BY ERIN ALBRIGHT, staff writer

The NCAA D-1 council has granted another year of eligibility to winter sports athletes due to disruptions in the normal season caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Following the NCAA’s ruling that fall sports athletes would remain eligible for an extra year due to the ongoing effects of the pandemic, it was expected that the council would give the same rights to winter sports athletes. 

“D-1 council has voted in favor of giving additional year of eligibility to winter athletes. Won’t be official until close of tomorrow’s meeting,” Jeff Goodman, a college basketball writer for Stadium, noted in a tweet on Tuesday. 

This ruling most notably affects men’s and women’s basketball, but it also affects swimming and diving and men’s and women’s ice hockey among other sports.

The start of men’s and women’s seasons has been pushed back two weeks to Nov. 25, with official practices beginning on Oct. 14. 

The teams must play a maximum of 27 games while requiring a minimum of 13 for NCAA tournament consideration. 

Teams have been allowed to hold practice 20 hours per week due to off season rules. 

COVID-19 first affected winter sports last year when the NCAA had to cancel many of the winter sports championships, specifically the NCAA basketball tournament. 

The eligibility extension offer will likely be extended to those who plan to play and those who are considering opting out of the 2020-2021 season completely. 

In addition to the eligibility ruling, the NCAA is expected to pass a one-time penalty-free transfer rule in January to go into effect in August of 2021. 

The proposed legislation will be sent to D-1 council members later this week, and would allow athletes to transfer one time with no fear of being ineligible or forced to sit out a year. 

Currently, players who transfer and want to play immediately have to obtain a waiver from the NCAA. 

The team the student-athlete is transferring to has to petition for the waiver, and the waiveneeds to be signed off on by  the student-athletes’ previous team for the NCAA to approve.