The College Swimming Coaches Association of America released a statement in agreement with the outcome of the NCAA Division I Council’s ruling that winter sports athletes would not receive an extra year of eligibility in the wake of mass coronavirus-related cancellations.
Full CSCAA statement:
In light of the NCAA Division I Council Coordination Committee’s support of eligibility relief for athletes in Spring sports, the College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association is compelled to express our opposition to similar relief to Winter athletes. While this position may be counter-intuitive, our rationale behind this decision is twofold.
We expect COVID-19 will have a devastating impact on institutions and athletic departments. Granting an additional year of athletic grants-in-aid would create an additional burden on schools and necessitate cutbacks elsewhere. While the cancellation of the NCAA Championships is disappointing to everyone involved, especially those invited to participate, any decision that could increase the likelihood of teams being eliminated is not something we can support.
Granting an additional year of eligibility would create an unfair advantage for those institutions with postgraduate programs. It would further incentivize the recruitment of student-athletes from their current roster. From an ethical and equitable standpoint, this is not something we can support.
While we empathize with every coach and student-athlete, and especially the 360 seniors who saw their season or career come to an abrupt end, we must acknowledge that 22,076 swimmers and divers completed their season prior to the cancellation of the NCAA Championships. Any effort to provide relief for the few, while admirable, jeopardizes opportunities for the rest of our sport.
The Council voted Monday to extend an extra year of eligibility to all spring sport athletes but gave schools the financial flexibility to apply scholarships as they see fit. The Council voted that schools need not provide scholarships at the same level awarded for 2019-20 for a returning senior in the 2020-21 season. Additionally, financial aid rules will “allow teams to carry more members on scholarship to account for incoming recruits and student-athletes who had been in their last year of eligibility who decide to stay.”
The move comes after the NCAA canceled all winter and spring championships, which essentially left all spring athletes without any competition for the season. The cancelations for winter sports included the NCAA Basketball Tournament, March Madness, and the men’s and women’s Division I and Division III Swimming & Diving Championships. The Division II Swimming & Diving Championships were called off midway through the competition.
WINTER SPORTS CHAMPIONSHIPS CANCELED
- Men’s and women’s basketball
- Men’s and women’s swimming (Division II canceled midway through)
- Men’s wrestling
- Men’s and women’s ice hockey
- Men’s and women’s gymnastics
- Women’s bowling
- Men’s and women’s fencing
- Men’s, women’s and mixed rifle
- Men’s, women’s and mixed skiing (canceled midway through)
- Men’s and women’s indoor track and field (Division II canceled midway through)
Many swimmers, particularly seniors, have led the call for winter sports athletes to also get another year of eligibility. Last week, Texas seniors Maxime Rooney and Jack Collins penned a letter to NCAA president Mark Emmert urging him to consider granting senior athletes in winter sports another year.
Over the weekend, the Student Athletic Advisory Committees from the Power 5 conferences released a joint statement proposing that any student-athlete who did not “complete their championship season” should have the opportunity to pursue an additional year of eligibility.