NCAA D1 Council Recommends Extending 5-Year Clock for COVID-Impacted Athletes

The Division I Council met virtually Wednesday to discuss recommendations to the Division I Board of Directors for protections for student-athletes whose seasons are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the NCAA press release, the protections discussed by the Council today are the minimum, and they may decide to include additional protections before the August 21st deadline.

Recently, the NCAA Board of Governors required each Division to adjust rules in order to support its student-athletes whose seasons were impacted by the pandemic. There are two main parts to the current recommendations coming out of today’s meeting.

Any fall sport student-athlete who opts out or has their season cut short shall receive both an extension of their five-year eligibility period, and they shall also receive an additional season of competition if they compete in less than 50% of the maximum number of competitions allowed by NCAA Division I rules.

What this means is that swimmers, for example, who have already used a redshirt season but have their 2020-2021 seasons canceled, such as Arizona State swimmer Grant House, will be able to get an extra year to finish their 4 seasons of collegiate eligibility. Typically, student-athletes have 5 years to use 4 seasons of eligibility in any given sport.

These minimum protections go a long way to satisfy the demands that were released by Pac-12 student-athletes earlier in the summer. Among those demands, many of which were centered around increasing efforts for racial justice, were protections for those student-athletes who opted out of playing due to the pandemic. Specifically, these Pac-12 players wanted to ensure that opting out of the season wouldn’t result in a lost season of eligibility or losing a spot on the roster. The demands also cited that COVID-related medical expenses should not be the responsibility of the athletes, and that they should be covered by the school. These demands have become crucial to those Pac-12 players now that the Pac-12 has suspended all competition through the end of 2020.

Additional protections are to be discussed in the next week, including protecting the athletics aid for student-athletes who opt out of competition, as well as medical coverage for COVID-19. Flexibility on financial aid limits could potentially be on the table as well.

The Council also adopted emergency legislation today. The goal of this legislation was to “implement an injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken.” This is what’s included in that legislation:

  • Computers, science equipment, musical instruments and other tangible items not included in the cost-of-attendance calculation but related to the pursuit of academic studies.
  • Post-eligibility scholarships to complete undergraduate or graduate degrees at any school.
  • Scholarships to attend vocational school.
  • Tutoring.
  • Expenses related to studying abroad that are not included in the cost-of-attendance calculation.
  • Paid, post-eligibility internships.

Much of what is covered in this emergency legislation is already allowed by Division I rules. This injunctive is “effective immediately”, and applies to men’s and women’s basketball, as well as Football Bowl Subdivision student-athletes.

In addition to the emergency legislation, the Council also voted to extend the recruiting dead period, which has been in effect since March, to September 30th. The dead period means no in-person evaluation or recruiting can occur. The matter of the dead period will be revisited in September.



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2 years ago

Sigh … regarding the extension of the recruiting dead period, though hardly surprising. A lot of 2021 HS seniors are gonna have to choose their schools blind.

2 years ago

Many, if not most, schools will not be able to accommodate this due to the cost. I can’t imagine that the PAC and BIG 10 schools will be able to do it. Wisconsin didn’t do it this year for senior spring athletes.

Reply to  Festus
2 years ago

Agreed. No possible way this gets implemented.

Pack Mack
Reply to  Festus
2 years ago

Wisconsin has an endowment of over $3B with a healthy list of corporate donors. They could have found away to pay for the Spring sports athletes if they wanted too.

Reply to  Pack Mack
2 years ago

That’s not how endowment money works.

2 years ago

Just to be clear – this doesn’t apply to swimmers yet, right? Because this is just for fall sports as of right now? But if it were to change to apply for winter, swimmers could use the extra year?

For a friend
2 years ago

Let me get this right – if applied to winter sports / COVID-19 affected, you could swim 50% of maximum competitions (which I think is 20 dates), and still get another year of eligibility?

And that 50% does not include championships?

Reply to  For a friend
2 years ago

This question was brought up by a lot of D2 coaches, and the message was basically “yep we did a poor job writing that, but we’re probably going to fix it.”

So, I suspect that in practice, it will be “more than 50% or in a championship event” burns your season, or qualified as “the first 50% of your season.”

Reply to  For a friend
2 years ago

Who pays? Wisconsin sent their spring 2020 season seniors packing with no option for a 5th year after the Covid cancellation.

50% of D1 teams are out for football this year.

Who pays?