NCAA moves to extend eligibility of spring student-athletes, cancel in-person recruiting

The decision comes in light of the cancellation of the NCAA spring championships due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic

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Men's lacrosse All-American senior midfielder Dox Aitken is one of the student-athletes uniquely affected by eligibility relief, as he recently committed to play football at Villanova in the fall. 

Emma Klein | Cavalier Daily

The NCAA Division I Council Coordination Committee released a statement Friday afternoon extending eligibility for student-athletes participating in spring sports. 

“Council leadership agreed that eligibility relief is appropriate for all Division I student-athletes who participated in spring sports,” the committee wrote. “Details of eligibility relief will be finalized at a later time. Additional issues with NCAA rules must be addressed and appropriate governance bodies will work through those in the coming days and weeks.”

This decision affects all spring sport athletes, which includes lacrosse, outdoor track and field, softball, baseball, golf, rowing and tennis.

This comes in response to NCAA President Mark Emmert’s decision to cancel all remaining winter and spring championships, including the Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Of note, the NCAA has yet to release a statement regarding the eligibility of winter athletes — including both men’s and women’s basketball teams and swimming and diving, which had upcoming tournaments originally scheduled for later this month. 

One potential scenario regarding eligibility relief would be to allow current seniors to play one more year at the collegiate level. Another is to treat this year as a ‘redshirt’ year for all student-athletes such that they all retain an extra year of eligibility. Regardless, the NCAA will have to jump through numerous hurdles to institute this extra year of eligibility, taking into account the athletes’ academics, limits on scholarships and restrictions on team size. 

Additionally, the committee moved to ban all in-person recruiting until April 15. 

“The Council leadership put in place an immediate ban on in-person recruiting for Division I coaches,” the committee wrote. “Additionally, the group advised schools to suspend any official and unofficial visits to campus from prospective student-athletes. This recruiting dead period will be in place until at least April 15, at which time the Division I Council Coordination Committee will evaluate. Telephone calls and written correspondence are allowed during dead periods.”

With many athletic conferences suspending or even canceling play for the spring season, college sports have truly come to a grinding halt.

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