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Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024
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NCAA extends eligibility to spring student-athletes due to coronavirus

NCAA extends eligibility to spring student-athletes due to coronavirus

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on theeaglecoronavirusproject.com, a separate website created by Eagle staff at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in spring 2020. Articles from that website have been migrated to The Eagle’s main site and backdated with the dates they were originally published in order to allow readers to access them more easily. 

The NCAA Division I Council extended an extra year of eligibility to spring student-athletes due to their seasons being shut down as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Athletes who participated in winter sports were not granted an extra year of eligibility, regardless of whether they were still in the midst of their seasons.

This means that AU lacrosse and track and field athletes will be given an extra year of eligibility. The lacrosse team has six seniors on its roster who will get another chance to play their final seasons, and the men’s and women’s track and field team has five. 

The lacrosse team got off to the best start in school history with a 7-0 record before the season was canceled. The track team had yet to begin its outdoor season after completing the indoor season on March 1. 

For winter sports, the school’s basketball players and wrestlers will not receive an extra year of eligibility, with the NCAA declining to give an extra year to athletes who had already completed their regular seasons. 

While AU’s men’s and women’s basketball teams had already completed their regular and postseasons by the time the NCAA canceled the rest of the sports season, the wrestling team was preparing to send four athletes to the national tournament. 

This means that redshirt senior Sal Profaci, the lone senior on the wrestling team this year, will not receive an extra year to compete. He received an at-large bid to wrestle at nationals a week before it was canceled. 

In his lone season as an Eagle since transferring from the University of Michigan, Profaci went 26-9 in the 141-pound weight class, and led the team in wins during the dual season at 10-2. He finished the year ranked 23rd in the country.

"Sal has earned this at-large bid through his hard work and effort during the season," said wrestling head coach Teague Moore when Profaci received his bid to nationals. "He is most deserving of this opportunity."

When it comes to the financial aspect of this extension, universities and their athletic departments will have to juggle how many players will be on their spring sport rosters and how much financial aid seniors using this extra year will receive. 

With seniors coming back for an unexpected additional year and new freshman recruits set to arrive, the NCAA adjusted its usual financial aid rules and gave universities the flexibility to not give the returning seniors the same exact financial aid they usually receive. A senior could return for this extra year with a spot on the team, but with less financial aid than the year before. Schools will have to decide this on a case by case basis.

“The Council’s decision gives individual schools the flexibility to make decisions at a campus level,” said NCAA Division I Council Chair M. Grace Calhoun in a statement following the decision. “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.”

abranch@theeagleonline.com

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