CSCAA: Extra Year of Eligibility Would Be Unfair, ‘Jeopardizes Opportunities’

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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

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swimman77

as much as i feel bad for the seniors who had prepared and waited for NCAAs, they cannot grant another year to those participating in NCAAs. its unfair.

Cfriel

Yea… it’s ALL unfair. If you had a college senior that prepared and earned the spot at NCAA you’d be saying something different. Using the word unfair is lacking compassion.

Qqq

Well reasoned and written — and the second point about post-graduate programs is one that I’d not thought of but it makes sense.

Would love to see SwimSwam do a feature on how college swim programs are funded, because that’s come to be a huge piece of how this all plays out — from reading through stories and comments there seems to be shared general knowledge/well-founded assumptions, but not a whole lot of meat around it.

Ladyvoldisser

Swimming programs are principally funded from Football and Basketball revenues. With a substantial drop from March Madness 2020 AND Herb Herbstreet suggesting the 2020 NCAA Football season will likely be disrupted, swimming is in dire straits.

DrSwimPhil

If football doesn’t happen this fall, it’ll be much more than just swimming (and for that matter, Olympic sports in general) that will be in dire straights. It’ll be the entire NCAA and the institutions themselves (beyond just the basic funding of athletic programs).

Bearly Breathing

I feel this official response is geared entirely as to what is “fair” and right for the institutions. Institutional competitiveness. Institutional resources. Completely deaf and blind to what is right for the student-athletes. One school might have a recruiting advantage for one year? Whoa whoa can’t have that. Better instead to quash the dreams of hundreds of the student-athletes. Their claim of empathizing for the kids rings completely hollow. Reading this angried up my blood. Now get off my lawn.

SheCanCoach

I would rather see a couple 100 SAs who only missed or did not get to finish NCAAs not get another shot vs watching universities deciding to cut programs. Focus on the big picture: a mid-major school like James Madison expects 12-15 spring sport seniors to return next year. That will cost JMU roughly $250K. That is double their budget for just the swim program to operate for one school year. To do another year is not only scholarships (if chosen to be honored); it will affect budgets: travel meals and hotels, equipment, suits, snacks/nutrition, clothing, and so on. And if the football season is affected…. It’s nice to offer the option. This option is going to have a price.… Read more »

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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