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NCAA approves extra year of eligibility for winter athletes

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This will definitely shake things up.

Sarr UK Athletics

The NCAA Division I Council has officially approved a ruling that will allow all collegiate athletes involved in winter sports to get an extra year of eligibility, according to Stadium’s Brett McMurphy.

Essentially, due to the oddity of this upcoming season because of COVID-19, this season does not count against anyone’s eligibility.

This summer, the same decision was made for athletes involved in fall sports. So all football players have been granted another year to play. Will any of the Kentucky Wildcats’ senior football players come back for another year?

That remains to be seen. But we could see a more immediate impact on the basketball court.

NCAA Winter Sports Impacted by Decision

  • Men’s and women’s basketball teams
  • Women’s bowling
  • Men’s and women’s fencing
  • Men’s and women’s gymnastics
  • Men’s and women’s ice hockey teams
  • Men’s, women’s, and mixed rifle
  • Men’s, women’s, and mixed skiing
  • Men’s and women’s swimming and diving
  • Men’s and women’s indoor track and field
  • Men’s wrestling

The SEC has a rule that a transfer with only one year of eligibility must sit out for a season regardless of the NCAA’s decision. Of course, there are waivers for this rule that schools may apply for. That is where Kentucky currently sits with Olivier Sarr.

However, now Sarr has two remaining years of eligibility to play college basketball. Is that an odd technicality? Maybe. But it should eliminate the need for the waiver all together. Based on the way transfer rules are written, Sarr should become immediately eligible with this decision. And as many have said this summer, that should make Kentucky an instant title contender.

This could also mean a lot for transfers Davion Mintz and Jacob Toppin. Mintz is a graduate transfer from Creighton, and having his leadership for two seasons could be beneficial. However, it is not clear if that would be of interest to him.

Until recently, it was assumed that Toppin would sit out this season. However, Kentucky has now applied for him to become immediately eligible this season is well. That could be due to the anticipation of this decision by the NCAA. But could it also be that Toppin was better than expected when arriving in Lexington?

We may find out soon enough.