NCAA extends athletic eligibility for 2020 spring athletes

By NICK NONNENMACHER

In light of the NCAA announcement on March 12 cancelling all remaining winter and spring sports championships due to the evolving Covid-19 health threat, the collegiate sports governing body has extended eligibility for Division III spring sports athletes. This means Middlebury spring athletes who want to participate in their four seasons of collegiate athletics will have the chance to return to campus to compete for another year, or enroll in another Division III school after graduation. 

“This will ultimately provide additional opportunity for Division III student-athletes to realize their four years of athletic eligibility,” said Tori Murden McClure, chair of the NCAA DIII Administrative Committee in a press release.

Under normal circumstances, a Division III student-athlete has 10 semesters to participate in four seasons of one sport. A semester counts if a student-athlete is both participating in academics and competing for their sport. The recent DIII committee decision makes it so that the spring 2020 semester will not count toward the 10 semesters or four seasons for any spring athlete. 

“I think it was the right thing to do for the NCAA to grant the extra year of eligibility for all spring student-athletes, given the circumstances,” said Middlebury’s Director of Athletics Erin Quinn in an email correspondence with The Campus. 

Middlebury does not have a history of students remaining on campus after graduation to fulfill athletic eligibility, or even of graduates continuing to compete while pursuing further postgraduate education. “I think under normal circumstances people mostly use their eligibility as an undergrad, and if they miss a year due to injury, they graduate and move on with their plans, whatever they may be,” Quinn said.

The cancellation of the spring season has affected the NESCAC in a variety of other ways. In addition to all-conference championships being cancelled, in-person recruiting has been restricted until June 15, and this date is likely to change again based on national health standings. Coaches are only allowed to communicate with recruits via email, phone, social media and witten mediums, for obvious reasons.

The NCAA effected a similar set of adjustments for Division I schools, taking into account spring student-athlete eligibility and recruiting eligibility. In contrast to Division III schools, Division I schools will have greater flexibility in self-applying extensions for individual student-athletes. The NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics), which includes 251 schools, also canceled remaining winter and spring championships for the spring 2020 semester. 

If you are a Middlebury spring sport student-athlete and are considering continuing your athletic participation after graduation, The Campus would love to hear your story. Shoot us an email at [email protected].