Division 1 Council grants extra year of eligibility for spring sport athletes


Penn Athletics

Grace Calhoun, Athletic Director at Penn, leads the Division 1 council that made the decision to grant an extra year of eligibility to spring sports athletes.

The NCAA Division I Council voted to allow schools to grant spring sport athletes an extra year of eligibility on Monday, in light of the cancellation of all division one sports for the rest of the academic year due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Scholarship rules were adjusted to allow schools to retain more athletes on scholarships for incoming players and returning seniors. Schools will be able to dip into the NCAA’s Student Assistance Fund to help finance scholarships for returning athletes. 

“The Council’s decision gives individual schools the flexibility to make decisions at a campus level,” said Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Penn. “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.”

DePaul spring sports include softball, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s golf, and men’s and women’s track and field. Track and field had not yet reached its outdoor season and softball, golf and tennis had not yet reached conference play. 

The Big East canceled its spring sports competitions on March 12, along with the NCAA’s decision. “While the decisions made [on March 12] are unfortunate and unprecedented, the safety and well-being of our student-athletes is of utmost importance,” Athletic Director Jean Lenti Ponsetto said in a statement as DePaul canceled its spring sports on March 13. 

Athletes receive four years of eligibility in a five-year window. The NCAA gave schools the choice to implement the waiver for an extra year, extending student’s window by a year. Student-athletes who were currently fifth-year seniors are also eligible for the waiver. 

Winter sports were also put at a halt with the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments being canceled. Winter sports athletes were not given an extra year of eligibility, the council decided.