NCAA Vote: D-I Winter Sports Athletes Will Not Receive Eligibility Relief

The NCAA Divison I Council has voted to grant a year of eligibility to Division I student-athletes who compete in spring sports after a mass cancellation by the organization in early March, but it did not approve the same relief for winter sports athletes.

That means athletes who compete in swimming and diving – which are winter sports – will not get another year. Women’s water polo players are among those who will receive an extra year.

“Winter sports were not included in the decision,” the NCAA said in its announcement. “Council members declined to extend eligibility for student-athletes in sports where all or much of their regular seasons were completed.”

The decision gives 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.”


  • Men’s baseball
  • Women’s softball
  • Men’s and women’s golf
  • Men’s and women’s lacrosse teams
  • Women’s rowing
  • Men’s and women’s tennis
  • Men’s and women’s outdoor track and field
  • Men’s volleyball and women’s beach volleyball
  • Women’s water polo

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.


  • 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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2 years ago

Why couldn’t the NCAA hold winter championships later this summer?

2 years ago


2 years ago

Can we PLEASE clarify that the D2 NCAA championships was NOT cancelled 1/2 way through!!!!!! They completed 3 out of 8 sessions. This may mean nothing to some of you, but some athletes did not even swim yet as their events were on Friday and Saturday. Saddddddd!!

2 years ago

I look at it like this: if a swimmer who qualified for NCAA’s this year got hurt or sick and could not compete in the actual meet, would s/he be eligible for a redshirt year? I am pretty sure the answer is “no”. But if a spring sport athlete had gotten sick or injured during a “normal” season at the same point where this season was cancelled because of CV19, would s/he be eligible for a redshirt year? I am pretty sure the answer is “yes”. So, seems fairly logical and evenly applied to me.

Reply to  oldschool
2 years ago

NCAA bylaws(D1) permit applying for a medical hardship waiver if a SA has among other criteria completed 20% or less of their playing season and do not return to training in their respective sport for the remainder of the academic year.

Swim dad
2 years ago

So I agree with the NCAA view of winter sports. Since they are saying the season was mostly completed, I think they need to award all american awards for all three divisions. Not sure how they determine that, but that would be consistent with their philosophy. These awards along with academic all american are important.

Reply to  Swim dad
2 years ago

The NCAA doesn’t actually give All-American awards (or Academic All-America awards), those are done by the Collegiate Swimming Coaches’ Association of America (CSCAA). We reached out to them a few weeks back to see how they were preparing to handle it, and they said they would have an announcement eventually.

Admittedly Heartbroken Senior
2 years ago

I’m guessing Division II and Division III will follow suit out of fairness to all athletes? Seems like it could be a more realistic option for Division III given there aren’t any athletic scholarships. Of course, it would be hard for most students to afford coming back on their own dime for a 5th year, but should this potentially be offered to these senior athletes (or every class) that qualified for this years’ NCAA meet in Division III?

2 years ago

Like I tried posting in an earlier article to no avail (thanks mods)…
Invite this year’s senior qualifiers to next year’s NCAA meets and let them swim exhibition, with their own exhibition finals.
Give those who want a chance to swim a chance, provided they train and can attain B-cut times by March of next year.
Tokyo got moved a year back, I’m sure those seniors who choose to swim til then would be happy to have their meet moved a year back as well, even if they can’t score points.

2 years ago

NCAA website’s statement : “The NCAA is committed to providing a fair, inclusive and fulfilling environment for student-athletes and fans.” Disappointing decision here.

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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