A day after the Big Ten and Pac-12 forced the NCAA to grapple with questions about eligibility by postponing their respective fall seasons, the Division I Council issued a recommendation on just that.
The Council suggested that fall sport athletes who either opt out of participation or have their seasons cut short due to COVID-19 are provided with, “(1) an extension of their five-year period of eligibility; and (2) an additional season of competition if they participate in 50 (percent) or less of the maximum number of competitions allowed in each sport by Division I rules,” an NCAA release stated.
For conferences that postpone fall seasons entirely, this would presumably allow athletes to retain eligibility as they would be participating in zero competitions. Though the Big Ten and Pac-12 may try to play in the Spring, it’s currently unknown whether that’s possible or likely.
To be clear, this is not a final decision on eligibility, it’s merely a recommendation. The decision itself will come by Aug. 21, per the release, after more conversations and input.
The release also said that requirements such as, “a prohibition on canceling, reducing or not renewing athletics aid for student-athletes who opt out of participation due to COVID-19 and required medical coverage for COVID-19 if a student contracts the virus,” would be discussed. It was not stated whether coverage for COVID-19 would include myocarditis, a long-term heart condition developed by some COVID-19 patients, including 10 Big Ten athletes so far, per a report released on Tuesday from The Athletic.
“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,” Penn athletic director and Council chair M. Grace Calhoun said in the release. “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.”
A dead period on in-person recruiting and evaluations was also extended through Sept. 30. It has been in place since the onset of the pandemic in March.