Council chair and Pennsylvania athletic director Grace Calhoun said the vote will give schools “flexibility” in granting eligibility to spring student-athletes after the COVID-19 pandemic forced athletics across the country to halt, according to the release. Schools that decide to extend a year of competition to spring athletes can apply through a waiver, the release states.
“The Board of Governors encouraged conferences and schools to take action in the best interest of student-athletes and their communities, and now schools have the opportunity to do that,” Calhoun said in the release.
The vote gives NCAA student-athletes six years to complete four seasons, according to the release. NCAA rules traditionally allow student-athletes four seasons of play over the course of five years.
The Atlantic 10 and Collegiate Water Polo Association, which fall under the NCAA, cut 10 of GW’s 12 spring seasons short last month. The Intercollegiate Sailing Association and International Rowing Association, which oversee the men’s rowing and sailing programs but are not part of the NCAAA, also called off competition last month.
The decision would affect 191 spring student-athletes at GW, including 45 seniors and four graduate students. Winter sport athletes will not receive an extra year because “all or much of their regular seasons were completed,” according to the release.
The council also modified financial aid rules to allow universities to carry more scholarships for both incoming recruits and student-athletes who are staying for another year of play, according to the release. Schools are not required to give the same amount of athletic aid to student-athletes returning to the 2020-21 season, but the NCAA opened a Student Assistance Fund for students seeking financial assistance in their extra year.
The size of baseball rosters will also be increased from its NCAA-mandated 35 players, the release states. Baseball is the only spring sport with a roster cap.