All Division 1 college athletes who have seen their spring seasons canceled due to the coronavirus threat will receive an extra year of eligibility, the NCAA announced on Monday night.
Following a lengthy meeting, the NCAA Division 1 Council voted to approve a blanket eligibility waiver for all spring sports athletes, allowing those affected to get an extra year to make up for the lost opportunity to compete this season.
The move follows similar decisions by the Division 2 and Division 3 Councils, which had previously approved granting spring athletes an extra year as well. The council reportedly decided not to grant an extra year of eligibility to winter athletes whose seasons were cut short.
While the decision will grant athletes the opportunity to continue their careers, it also allows schools to determine how much, if any, financial support they're willing to provide each athlete.
"The Council's decision gives individual schools the flexibility to make decision at a campus level," said M. Grace Calhoun, athletic director at UPenn and chair of the NCAA Division 1 Council. "The Board of Governors encouraged conferences and schools to take action in the best interest of student-athletes and their communities, and now schools have the opportunity to do that."
The implications of the decision will be wide ranging, and it's likely that not all athletes who'd like to stay will be able to do so. Many athletes in non-revenue sports don't receive full scholarships as it is, and if a university decides to offer an athlete a smaller scholarship than before, that athlete may have to weigh the benefit of playing against the higher cost of sticking around.
Those decisions will be made by individual programs and universities, who will now have to assess their future roster make-ups, including which seniors will be taking advantage of the extra year, who won't be and how many new freshman are expected to enter the program.
Even with the extra year of eligibility, many athletes likely won't return anyway. Locally, Newburyport's Nick Carleo and Rowley's Maddie Quigley, who are seniors with Providence College and the University of New Hampshire track programs respectively, have both recently indicated they will not be returning to school and will instead move on to the next stage of their lives.