In the wake of the Big Ten’s decision to cancel fall sports last week, the conference has faced myriad questions from athletes, coaches and parents. One of those key questions has been the fate of athletes’ eligibility.
On Friday, the NCAA answered that question, with the Board of Directors approving a blanket waiver for all fall sport athletes to keep their year of eligibility, regardless of whether they play this season, per a release. The ruling will also extend to seasons that may be rescheduled to the spring. The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach was the first to report the story, in a tweet Friday afternoon. The NCAA also announcd that schools cannot cancel or reduce scholarships if athletes choose not to participate in sports due to COVID-19.
For Michigan, the ruling will have a slew of ramifications. While senior Ambry Thomas and junior Jalen Mayfield have already entered the NFL Draft, questions surround a number of other Wolverines. On Wednesday, fifth-year senior defensive lineman Carlo Kemp said that he will play in a potential spring season, but it is unclear whether he will take a sixth season. Now, players such as Quinn Nordin and Nick Eubanks will face similar decisions.
While the Wolverines have a younger roster this season, it’s still a decision that those few players entering their final year of eligibility never expected to have to make. Some, such as Kwity Paye, will likely go to the NFL Draft. Others with less certain professional futures face much murkier decisions.
For Michigan, the decision raises future roster-building concerns, with a potential backlog of players in future seasons. For players and their families, though, it’s a significant early step in the countless questions they still seek answers to.