NCAA Fall Sports DI Athletes Granted Extra Year of Eligibility

    • All Division I fall sports athletes will receive an extra year of eligibility.
    • The governing body will attempt to plan fall sports championships for spring 2021.

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The NCAA Division I Board of Directors approved recommendations by their Division I Council regarding eligibility and plans for fall sports to take place in the spring, the governing body announced on Aug. 21.

“We continue to be committed to providing opportunities wherever possible,” Division I Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, who also serves as the athletic director at Pennsylvania, said in a statement.

All fall sports athletes, including FBS football players who could still play in the fall, will receive another year of eligibility and another year to complete that eligibility, according to the NCAA. 

This provides more flexibility than was previously agreed upon by the governing body, which would allow athletes to only receive another year of eligibility if they played less than 50% of their season.

The board also made it a requirement that schools must “review” insurance policies with athletes and “inform” them about the potential risks of their sport, as well as how their campuses will be taking safety precautions.

Schools will also not be allowed to require athletes to sign waivers that would relinquish their right to legal recourse if they contract COVID-19 as a result of play. 

As for whether fall sports championships will take place in the spring, the Division I Board of Directors announced they “will work toward hosting scaled back fall championships in the spring.” This does not guarantee, however, that fall championships will be held in the spring, as the governing body has opted to continue discussions. It remains to be seen whether a spring season would be logistically tenable.

To remain ready for a spring season, athletes can participate in 12 hours of “countable athletics” each week, though practices would not include contact. 

As of Aug. 21, six FBS conferences plan to continue with a fall football season, while the Mountain West, MAC, Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences have all opted to push their seasons to the spring due to concerns regarding COVID-19. Conference USA will continue to play football but postponed its other fall sports, the conference announced on Aug. 21.