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NCAA council recommends extra eligibility for fall sports affected by coronavirus

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If a player’s season ends due to the coronavirus, they should get an extra season of eligibility.

Jason Marcum - Sea of Blue

It looks like the NCAA will be granting an extra season of eligibility to athletes who either opt out of fall sports or have their seasons cancelled.

On Wednesday, the NCAA announced that the Division I Council recommended eligibility protections for student-athletes whose sport seasons are impacted by the coronavirus. It’s essentially the same thing the NCAA did for spring sports athletes whose seasons ended early due to the coronavirus.

The Council recommended the board provide fall sport student-athletes who compete and then opt out of future participation or have a season cut short due to COVID-19: (1) an extension of their five-year period of eligibility; and (2) an additional season of competition if they participate in 50% or less of the maximum number of competitions allowed in each sport by Division I rules.

“In this time of uncertainty, the Council members are working to create additional flexibility for college athletes whose seasons have been negatively impacted by the pandemic,” said Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Pennsylvania. “Every day things are changing in college sport, and we want to be as responsive as possible, with the best information, to help student-athletes and their families make important decisions for their future. The Council worked hard today and will seek membership input before we make final recommendations to the board next week.”

The board will meet Aug. 21st to review Council recommendations regarding student-athlete well-being protections, as well as the future of fall championships (like the College Football Playoff).

This is great news to hear, as it likely means anyone who doesn’t play football this fall due to the virus will get another year of eligibility. Even teams like the Kentucky Wildcats, who are currently still planning to play this fall, should benefit from this since most college teams will likely have a few players opt out of the season.

And if Kentucky has a season that’s cut short due to the virus, it sounds like they too could get an extra year of eligibility if it’s less than 50% of the max number of games.

The football Cats could field one of the best teams the program has ever seen this fall, so it’s good to know most, if not all of the players will get a chance to play one last least season if they so choose, whether it’s in the fall, spring, or the 2021 season.