NCAA Likely to Give Division I 2020 Fall Athletes Extra Year

    • As with spring athletes earlier in the year, 2020 fall athletes will get the option for another season.
    • The rule will apply regardless of how much an athlete does or does not compete.

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The NCAA is set to approve a motion that would allow all fall athletes in the upcoming school year to receive an extra year of competition and an extension of their eligibility clocks, the Associated Press reported. 

The additional year would be applied no matter how much an athlete competes throughout their season, whether they opt out over COVID-19 concerns or play a typical schedule. 

Historically, NCAA athletes have had five calendar years to complete four seasons of competition. 

According to the AP, the NCAA Division I Council voted Aug. 19 to approve the recommendation, and also recommended that the association should pursue pushing fall sports championships to the spring, as has been suggested in appearances by NCAA President Mark Emmert. 

The council reportedly did not make recommendations regarding the size of postponed championship fields or how participants should be picked.

In addition to the eligibility waiver, the Council also approved a plan to allow football teams not competing in the fall to have 12 hours per week of “mandatory activities that include strength and conditioning, meetings and noncontact, unpadded practices,” the AP reported. 

The recommended motions will head to the Division I Board of Directors, which will meet on Aug. 21, for a final vote. The AP reported that board approval is “likely.”

In the wake of spring sports cancellations last school year as the pandemic accelerated in the U.S., the NCAA granted all Division I spring sport athletes an extra year of competition and eligibility. 

Those who were seniors are allowed to return in the 2020-21 school year without counting against roster size or scholarship limits, which will also be the case for senior athletes in the upcoming year if the Council’s recommendation passes. Underclassmen, the AP reported, will be granted a waiver to get an additional year in their NCAA careers, but will count against roster size and scholarship limits.  

Over the last two weeks, all but six Division I conferences called off their fall sports seasons, including football. Those that are still planning to hold a season are mostly doing so with altered schedules and fan attendance policies.

Among the Power 5 conferences, the Big Ten and Pac-12 have said they are looking at holding football season in early 2021, potentially starting as soon as January if health conditions permit.