NCAA grants winter sport student-athletes an extra year of eligibility

Winter sport student-athletes were granted the flexibility due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

The NCAA Division I Council announced on Wednesday that student-athletes competing in winter sports will be granted an extra year of eligibility and another year to complete it.

According to the release, the decision was made in part to give winter athletes the same accommodation previously given to fall and spring athletes after their seasons were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"The pandemic will continue to impact winter sport seasons in ways we can’t predict," M. Grace Calhoun, council chair and athletics director at the University of Pennsylvania, said in the release. "Council members opted to provide for winter sport student-athletes the same flexibility given spring and fall sports previously. The actions today ensure the continuation of local decision-making in the best interest of each institution and its student-athletes." 

When fall sports athletes were given an extra year of eligibility in August, the NCAA also announced universities are prohibited from canceling or reducing athletics scholarships if a college athlete in any sport opts out of the season due to COVID-19.

READ MORE: All fall sports athletes will gain an extra year of eligibility

In addition to the extra year of eligibility, the council also granted a blanket waiver for the school year to allow conferences to earn an automatic bid in fall championships if at least three schools participated in conference competition in that sport. 

This year, winter sports will also have more lenient postseason qualifications than normal, with teams only needing to compete in as little as 50% of the required minimum dates or contests of competition.

On Sept. 24th, the Pac-12 announced the resumption of football in addition to each of the conference's winter sports. In the announcement, the conference listed Nov. 25th as the official start date for men's and women's basketball seasons.

The remaining winter sports' start dates are up to the discretion of each university within the conference based on guidance from their respective local health authorities.

The other winter sports in that category are wrestling, women's gymnastics, and men’s and women’s swimming and diving.

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