The NCAA Division I Council voted Monday to permit an additional season of competition and eligibility to all spring-sport athletes who were unable to complete the 2019-20 athletic year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The decision does not apply to athletes in winter sports like basketball where "all or much of their regular seasons were completed," per an NCAA release.
The move specifically allows schools to self-apply waivers to restore an additional season of competition and an extension of eligibility for spring-sport athletes. Normally, athletes have four season of competition that must be exhausted in a five-year window.
On March 13, the day after the NCAA Tournament was formally canceled, the NCAA Council Coordination Committee deemed it "appropriate" for athletes in spring sports to regain a year of eligibility.
That stance at least shifted for some last week as schools faced a huge shortfall from lost NCAA Tournament revenue. CBS Sports reported Sunday the discussion had gone "sideways" because of budget concerns from programs that would need to fund additional, unexpected scholarships.
The council responded to this concern by adjusting financial aid rules for institutions and expanding rosters in order to ensure teams had space for additional scholarship athletes without forcing them to push away other athletes or incoming recruits. Returning athletes -- namely seniors -- will essentially not count against roster limits.
"It's the point of the NCAA to have our best interests at heart," said Emily Cheramie, a junior athlete in rifle at Nebraska who was one of 60 signees on a statement released late Sunday night by the NCAA Student Athletic Advisory Council.