The NCAA's Division I Council is recommending to the NCAA's Board of Governors that all college athletes whose sports are traditionally played in the fall be allowed to keep their year of eligibility, Yahoo Sports and 247Sports reported Wednesday. This is a measure of potential eligibility relief that could ease the burden for schools and players amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The recommendation would need to be approved by the NCAA Board of Governors and could formally be adopted as early as Friday when they are next scheduled to meet.
As CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd reported earlier this week, the rule, if put into place, would apply to all fall sports including football -- even those that are potentially pushed to the spring of 2021.
The extra year of eligibility, while an easy fix to a complex problem, also has complicating factors given that it would likely bloat the rosters for football teams next season. Coaches plan years in advance for scholarship numbers to balance between outgoing players and incoming recruits, which could set up a unique dynamic for them to juggle. But, says West Virginia AD Shane Lyons, who serves on the NCAA council, "If we're really serving the student-athletes, why not just give this year of eligibility?"
"The downside is people are going to say you're going to have an issue at the back end with a [roster] bottleneck," he told Dodd. "That always works itself out."
Measures of similar relief were proposed with playing limits placed on granted eligibility, but the recommendation from the Division I Council has no restrictions on playing time.
"Am I going to get five games into this and feel, 'This is really dumb. Did I just waste a year of eligibility?' a former council member proposed, as reported by Dodd, regarding whether competition limits should be considered or if a blanket eligibility relief should be granted. "I don't think we should be having to ask that last question. I think we should give them [blanket] relief from having to worry about that."