Mar 29, 2019; Albany , NY, USA; General view of a NCAA logo prior to an Albany regional semifinal game of the women's 2019 NCAA Tournament between the UCLA Bruins and the UConn Huskies at the Times Union Center. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

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NCAA grants fall athletes extra year of eligibility

Division I athletes on fall sports teams will receive an extra year of eligibility whether or not their program plays during the 2020-21 school year, the NCAA announced Friday.

The move comes in the wake of numerous conferences and universities canceling or postponing their fall sports slate due to the coronavirus pandemic, with some hoping to reschedule for the spring. The Big Ten and Pac-12 are among the leagues that won’t play football or other sports in the autumn.

The NCAA’s Division I Council recommended the concession of an additional year of eligibility for fall athletes earlier this week, and the Division I board of directors approved the proposal on Friday.

“All Fall sport student-athletes will receive both an additional year of eligibility and an additional year in which to complete it,” according to the NCAA. “Student-athletes who do not enroll full time during the 2020 fall term have flexibility in the progress-toward-degree requirements that must be met for eligibility in future terms.”

The Division I Council also announced its intention of “hosting scaled back fall championships in the spring. …

“Board members cautioned that fall championships should be played in the spring only if they can be conducted safely and in accordance with federal, state and local health guidelines. The board acknowledged that its action pertained to fall championships only and that the final decisions on bracket sizes and composition will be approved by the board.”

Acting board chair Denise Trauth, the president of Texas State, said in a statement, “We want to provide opportunities for student-athletes whenever possible. We understand it will be complicated and different, and we’re not certain how it will look. But we believe it’s important to try to give students that championship experience.”

The head of the NCAA Football Oversight Committee, West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons, favored the move to extend eligibility as a way to assist affected student-athletes.

“By providing clarity and removing that uncertainty from their minds is something that’s going to be very beneficial as we move forward,” Lyons said, according to ESPN. “Not having a normal season, not having that normal 20 games in soccer, or 28 matches in volleyball, and even football not sure what that season’s going to look like, that was the No. 1 concern that the student-athletes had, was the eligibility piece.”

–Field Level Media

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