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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Swimmom
2 years ago

What about high school seniors and juniors who won’t even have a season because of COVID, will the NCAA consider any changes on graduation in 4 consecutive years from the start of ninth grade?

Questionable
Reply to  Swimmom
2 years ago

Unlikely. Because why would the NCAA change that much? Thats too much work for them. This article looks a lot like saving face to me.

SWIMFAN5
Reply to  Swimmom
2 years ago

I doubt the NCAA would do that. Those who are in high school are just losing their seasons period. My high school swimmers are likely losing their swim season, and very likely will lose a second season in their spring sports if things don’t get better soon. It’s pretty sad, but is likely what will happen. Currently swimming/playing on their club teams for their sports but unfortunately missing out on the high school experience. The club seasons, especially for swimming, are drastically reduced in practice time and my swimmers haven’t had a swim meet–even intrasquad–since February with none even scheduled to take place as of yet. Just glad at this point there are opportunities to do some training.

Saltysailor
2 years ago

Will this extension likely be provided for D2 and D3 swimmers and divers?

Admin
Reply to  Saltysailor
2 years ago

Entirely unclear at this point. I wouldn’t even say it’s clear if D3 will have a winter sports season at all, so they’d really just need to extend the ‘clock’ not the eligibility at that point.

badswimstuff
2 years ago

I think this is a good decision by the NCAA. They have always claimed to be “athlete friendly” and this shows that in action.

That being said, overall I am not sure this is going to be good for the sport at the collegiate level. Even if scholarships won’t count against limits, schools that have athletes stay will have to cover it. This could really prove problematic, especially at lower tier schools and D2. Now, I honestly don’t see a lot of athletes taking this option, especially ones low or non-scholarship. But, even if 2 or 3 swimmers would stay and aren’t on a lot of money, some of those budgets I imagine are very tight and when juggling… Read more »

SwimMom
Reply to  badswimstuff
2 years ago

I like it because it gives athletes options. It doesn’t say they have to stay an extra year, it definitely doesn’t say schools have to give them an extra year of scholarship, but it does say they have the extra year if they want it. I’m assuming we’ll learn more about if the athlete has to stay at their current school, but if they don’t, it gives them the option to go somewhere else and get money for that last year. I just see it as a good thing anytime the NCAA gives options back to athletes. As I’ve already said in another comment, I hope DII and DIII follow and do the same thing.

badswimstuff
Reply to  SwimMom
2 years ago

I agree. It provides the option which is great. And, I stand corrected, they won’t necessarily HAVE to cover it. I hope some places can see the benefits of having athletes stay and provide more income to the school but, we’ve seen an alarming trend that I am not sure this is going to help stop.

Swim Parent
Reply to  SwimMom
2 years ago

There is a trickle down effect here. The money the college kids will “get for the last year” will have to be taken from incoming recruits. So, the college kids win here but the high school kids (who have also been working for years and years with the goal to swim in college) will lose.

Admin
Reply to  Swim Parent
2 years ago

Not necessarily true. The NCAA hasn’t explicitly said it, but for previous seasons, they’ve said that this won’t count against scholarship limits.

I do agree that this is closer to a zero-sum game than some seem to believe.

Swim Parent
Reply to  Braden Keith
2 years ago

I read somewhere that for fall sports, it won’t be counted against scholarship athletes for next year but it will count starting in 2022-2023. Not sure if this is correct or not! I hope you are correct that it won’t necessarily shift the Covid burden to the younger kids.

SwimMom
Reply to  Swim Parent
2 years ago

I feel for the high school kids, but for our family, as much as the money matters, it’s more important to us to have the OPTION for that additional year. We’ll make a decision on the money if/when the time comes. I have a DII swimmer. He went back for finals at NCAAs in March and the doors were locked. This year is looking to be a wash. So basically, if DII doesn’t follow, he’s going to lose 2 years of his NCAA championships. So yes, I hate it for high schoolers, but if you look at what has happened to some of these kids already in college, they need the relief. Just my opinion though, and I realize it’s… Read more »

Swim Parent
Reply to  SwimMom
2 years ago

I have a high school junior going through recruiting so I’m biased the other way. She has worked for ten years to swim in college and we are concerned that her opportunities will be diminished due to a bottleneck at the top. I hope I’m wrong! I do see your point (so sorry about the NCAAs – that sucks) but I still don’t think the current high schoolers should assume all of the COVID burden, which is what this rule seems to lead to. 🙁

SwimMom
Reply to  Swim Parent
2 years ago

I can completely understand your viewpoint too. We’ve talked about this a lot in our family, and the general consensus amongst us (not saying we’re correct) is that this ruling will have little effect on lots of seniors. We believe that most have already started making plans to graduate and move on, and unless they’re elite swimmers, their schools/coaches are probably ready for them to move on too. For the other three classes we think it will play out in similar fashion. When the athlete has gotten enough credits for their degree and is ready to graduate, unless there’s some compelling reason for them to stay, they are likely to move on. If they still have a year available they… Read more »

Club coach
2 years ago

Good for college seniors, sucks for high school seniors looking to get recruited

Questionable
Reply to  Club coach
2 years ago

Ha! Jokes on you because just about any HS senior good enough to make a bigger D1 team (that this ruling is more than likely going to affect moreso) has already been recruited and made a commitment.

Not sure if you’ve followed that recruiting now starts a whole lot earlier than it did 5 years ago.

Club coach
Reply to  Questionable
2 years ago

I’m not stupid- coached for 18 years. I have kids bursting onto the scene at the end of last year (kid goes from 21.4 in the 50 to 20.1 and is told there is no scholarship for him next year)
It shakes up recruiting- even if someone committed the question arises, will the ncaa allow schools to be over their scholarship allotment? Do schools tell these incoming seniors to take a gap year and delay enrollment a year? There are many D1 schools who have roster spots capped due to title IX- so what do they do? Tell seniors they won’t honor the extra year in order to make room for incoming kids or tell the new comers they… Read more »

Jimmy Tierney
Reply to  Club coach
2 years ago

Agree. Tough for many swimmers still searching. But I got your 20.1 boy covered. Feel free to contact me.

Questionable
Reply to  Club coach
2 years ago

What i was responding in is reality. There is very little room for late bloomers now that recruiting has moved to so early in the HS career. 5-8 years ago, it was common place for a HS senior to commit to a large school in the latter half of their last year In HS.

Now, youll be lucky to see even top 30% athletes waiting until the latter part of their junior year to commit.

My comment wasnt based in opinion or emotion, but in reality and a sad truth.

Swim Parent
Reply to  Club coach
2 years ago

Sucks for high school juniors, too!

Omalley
2 years ago

Does this have to be a fifth year at the same
a school or can they swim their fifth year in grad school at a different university?

Swim3057
Reply to  Omalley
2 years ago

According to the NCAA, yes. BUT, while the former school gets to exceed the NCAA scholarship limits for one year if their returning athletes take advantage of this extra year the new school would have to fit an incoming transfer under the scholarship limits.

SwimMom
2 years ago

I hope that this same decision is made for DII and DIII.

D2 Swimmer
Reply to  SwimMom
2 years ago

I wonder when the DII and DIII councils will make their decisions.

NC Fan
2 years ago

They need to move 2022 men’s NCAAs from Georgia Tech to Mercedes Benz (slight exaggeration) because it could be the greatest meet ever (not really an exaggeration).

Cody Miller's dolphin kick(s)
2 years ago

So do you get 6 year to complete 4 or 6 years to compete 5? And if it is the latter is that irrespective of if you swim/redshirt?

Admin
Reply to  Cody Miller's dolphin kick(s)
2 years ago

6 years to complete 5.

The extra year (6 vs. 5) is where redshirts are accounted for. So swimmers like Grant House will still likely only get to compete for 4 years, +2 redshirts.

GA Boy
Reply to  Braden Keith
2 years ago

Could you not potentially be on the roster at the same school for seven years? Freshman redshirt, Sophomore medical redshirt, Junior compete but are given the gift of an extra year of covid ability. You’ve now been at college for 3 years and you then begin your 4 years of eligibility. The medical redshirt is the rover, it could appear anywhere in the seven years except this year. I think this would be very rare in swimming, but I think this will happen at least once in at least one NCAA sport.

Xman
Reply to  GA Boy
2 years ago

Van Wilder of NCAA swimming. That sounds very expensive…

Mike
Reply to  GA Boy
2 years ago

Correct me if I’m wrong but I think Cierra Runge was around for about seven years on tne college swimming scene with maybe three colleges without the extra year of eligibility. I think she swam a year then red shirted than swam a year and then took a year off for the 2016 olympics Then swam a year and then took a redshirt injury year. Then swam again at ASU. So you may be right’

Curious
Reply to  Braden Keith
2 years ago

Braden what if you competed in the 2019-2020 season transferred sitting out a year without competing in the 2020-2021 season but will compete from the 2021/2022 season. Do you still receive both an additional season of competition and an additional year in which to complete it?

SWIMFAN5
Reply to  Curious
2 years ago

Idk but it sounded like you have to participate in this season to get the 5th year.