College athletes in spring sports such as baseball and softball whose seasons have been disrupted or canceled because of the coronavirus could be in line to retain the year of NCAA eligibility they were set to use this season, according to a Friday statement from the NCAA.
"Council leadership agreed that eligibility relief is appropriate for all Division I student-athletes who participated in spring sports," the NCAA statement says. "Details of eligibility relief will be finalized at a later time. Additional issues with NCAA rules must be addressed, and appropriate governance bodies will work through those in the coming days and weeks."
The statement came a day after the NCAA announced the cancellation of the remaining winter and spring championships, including the men's and women's NCAA Basketball Tournaments and the Men's and Women's College World Series events. Many conferences followed the NCAA's lead on Thursday or Friday by either canceling their spring sports seasons or postponing them indefinitely.
The Big Ten has canceled all competition for the rest of the academic year, "including spring sports that compete beyond the academic year," according to a league statement. By contrast, the SEC only suspended competition until March 30, leaving open the possibility that its spring sports could resume at some point this year. But even if some leagues do resume play, there will be no NCAA championship at the end of the schedule.
While Friday's announcement about eligibility relief pertained to spring sports athletes, there has been no word from the NCAA on the possibility of eligibility relief for winter sports athletes, namely basketball players whose seasons were cut short less than a week before the scheduled beginning of the NCAA Tournament.