A day after canceling all spring championships because of the coronavirus outbreak, the NCAA is granting athletes in those spring sports an extra season of eligibility.
The NCAA’s decision will allow seniors, who briefly believed they had played their final games in college, to return for an extra season in 2021.
“Council leadership agreed that eligibility relief is appropriate for all Division I student-athletes who participated in spring sports,” the NCAA said in a statement.
For the No. 5 Miami Hurricanes baseball team, this means seniors Brian Van Belle, Tyler Keysor and Chad Crosbie will be allowed to return next season even though all had exhausted their four seasons of eligibility. Van Belle, a redshirt senior, was Miami’s Opening Day starter this season after foregoing the 2019 MLB draft to return to the Hurricanes.
The NCAA has not yet made a decision on what will happen for athletes playing winter sports. Both Miami’s men’s and women’s basketball teams were eliminated from the Atlantic Coast Conference tournaments in their first games. Neither was expected to qualify for the NCAA tournaments or the National Invitational Tournaments.
“The Council Coordination Committee agreed that it will be appropriate to grant relief for the use of a season of competition for student-athletes who have participated in spring sports,” the NCAA said in a letter sent to member institutions, according to reports. “The committee will also discuss issues related to seasons of competition for winter sport student-athletes who were unable to participate in conference and NCAA championships.”
On Thursday, virtually all of college athletics came to a halt. Every college basketball conference tournament still be playing was canceled Thursday, and the NCAA later announced it was canceling all remaining winter and spring championships. The ACC later “suspended all athletic related activities including all competition, formal and organized practice, recruiting and participation in NCAA championships until further notice.”
“The decision was made following consultation with the league’s presidents and athletic directors to mitigate the further spread of COVID-19,” the conference said in a statement.
On Friday, the FIU Panthers also suspended their spring football practice, which was scheduled to begin Monday, until further notice. The NCAA told members they will be in a dead period through for at least the next month.
The NCAA, however, did not address how scholarship limits would be handled with players unexpectedly returning for another season.
“Details of eligibility relief will be finalized at a later time,” the NCAA said. “Additional issues with NCAA rules must be addressed, and appropriate governance bodies will work through those in the coming days and weeks.”