NCAA Grants Winter Student-Athletes Extra Season of Eligibility

The Division I Council has made a decision to extend eligibility for student-athletes competing in winter sports, as recently announced by the NCAA website. The Council has been considering this option in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted fall sports seasons and is now disrupting winter ones, including swimming and diving.

The Council has decided to grant student-athletes competing in winter sports the same flexibility that it granted spring and fall student-athletes by offering winter student-athletes an extra season of eligibility and an extra year to exhaust this final season of eligibility. Like fall sports, it does not matter if winter athletes had a season or not. Athletes in all winter sports will be offered another season of eligibility.

Under normal circumstances, Division I student-athletes have a 5-year window during which they can use up their four seasons of eligibility. However, given the current situation with COVID-19, student-athletes of all class years have been offered an additional season of eligibility, regardless of where they are in their 5-year window.

This decision comes after the NCAA decided not to extend winter athletes’ eligibility, including swimmers and divers, who had their NCAA championships cancelled due to the pandemic.

The Council has also decided that due to the ongoing challenges that COVID-19 is posing, Division I schools will not be required to sponsor the required minimum number of sports needed for membership purposes, so long as the schools indicate on Sports and Demographics Survey forms that the only reason they were unable to sponsor the requisite number of sports was due to the challenges posed by COVID-19.

Additionally, schools will not be required to sponsor a sport for each season, and multi-sport conferences will no longer be a requirement to meet minimum sport sponsorship requirements.

Finally, the Council also decided to amend the process by which teams qualify for championships, granting a blanket waiver for 2020-21. The Council has agreed on the following points, which are consistent with what was granted to fall sports teams:

  • Winter sports can participate in as few as 50% of the required minimum contests/dates of competition and still be considered for championships selection. This applies to all sports except for men’s and women’s basketball, which have already set their minimum contest number at 13.
  • A win-loss record of .500 or better is normally required for teams to be eligible to participate in at-large championships selections, but teams will not be required to meet this standard this winter season.

To read the full report provided by the NCAA, go to this link.

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swimfan210_
8 days ago

This must be relieving for winter student-athletes to hear. The pandemic is probably going to be around for a while and I just don’t see it getting better anytime soon, so I would not imagine anything close to a normal 2020-21 season. Some teams will probably be limited to dual meets and stripped-down invites (and possibly virtual championships), and stricter conferences might not allow any competition between schools. This season will be so much more limited than last one, which only had the final meet cancelled. This might be controversial but I generally support it.

Mike
8 days ago

Way to go NCAA!! A great decision that puts what’s best for the athletes first. These swimmers work so hard and they deserve this.

West Coast Swammer
Reply to  Mike
7 days ago

I agree that this is great for the current NCAA swimmers, and that’s who the NCAA should be representing. I do feel for the college coaches and high school swimmers (all the way down to current high school sophomores and even freshman) that haven’t verbaled – this puts all but the top tier in a bind. Since it will be a swimmer’s choice whether to use all 5 years or not, coaches won’t have the normal level of roster clarity due to graduation until the current college freshman have used all 5 years. It’s anyone’s guess how many slots each team will have available every year until then. And of course there will be budget issues too. But, like I… Read more »

Swim Parent
Reply to  Mike
7 days ago

What about the current high school students? They have also worked very hard and it seems that they could be negatively impacted by this decision?

Mike
Reply to  Swim Parent
7 days ago

The NCAA should be concerned with their current athletes, and this decision takes that into consideration. The high schoolers will get their chance.

RUN-DMC
Reply to  Swim Parent
7 days ago

If I had a high school athlete, I would encourage him/her to take online classes, and not consider NCAA unless they are a 4- or 5-star recruit.

meeeee
Reply to  RUN-DMC
7 days ago

Glad you’re not RUN-NCAA

Swimfan
8 days ago

How many teams get cut now that there is no minimum number of sports. This is bad.

HuntleyJones
Reply to  Swimfan
7 days ago

You can’t force schools to hemorrhage even more money than they currently are because of the pandemic.

Swimfan
Reply to  HuntleyJones
7 days ago

You can ask them to cut budgets instead of teams

Ray Bosse
Reply to  Swimfan
7 days ago

The point about reducing the team sponsorship number to remain DI is the hidden point that has the most potential damage. This could endanger many men’s programs at the Mid-Major level. Look at how many of those schools sponsor the minimum number of 16 sports. The question would be how long will this waiver be in affect? How long do schools that drop below the 16 sports number have before they must get back to 16? Lots of “What If?” unanswered questions it seems in this decision. Showing that COVID is the cause of money lost requiring sponsoring less that 16 sports could be argued for quite some time.

Swim3057
Reply to  Ray Bosse
7 days ago

Central Michigan, which doesn’t sponsor swimming, filed a waiver with NCAA to go below 16 sports last fall and said they would need 3 years to get back to compliance. Now the waiver process has changed (a rubber stamp) but the precedent is there for getting back to 16. The other key is you don’t have to bring back the same sport you dropped to get your numbers up – you can add another less expensive sport. This part of yesterday’s Council meeting is a very slippery slope…..

meeeee
Reply to  Swim3057
7 days ago

CMU swimmer here when they dropped. You bring back bad memories. Have received calls the past almost 40 years asking for athletic donations to keep their football and basketball programs nationally relevant. Never donated. Whatever happened to coach Bill Adams? African-American swim coach at CMU, previously at Valpo and I believe U of Chicago. Figured he would have stayed in swimming but never heard about him again.