The NCAA Division I Council acted after the coronavirus pandemic caused the cancellation of spring sports.
The NCAA Division I Council voted Monday to grant an extra year of eligibility to student-athletes in spring sports whose seasons were cut short because of the coronavirus pandemic.
"I think it's great," Ohio State senior baseball player Matt Carpenter said. "I think it's great for everybody, (especially) for every senior who was excited to play in their last year and had the opportunity taken from them. I think it's great that they get to experience and get to go out there again with the program and the guys that they love on the team and try to reach the goals they set out before the start of this season."
Winter sports were not included in the decision. Council members declined to extend eligibility for student-athletes in sports where all or much of their regular seasons were completed.
How much scholarship money will be made available to each athlete will be determined by the athlete's school. The amount could range from nothing to as much the athlete received the year before.
Roster limits will be adjusted to fit returning athletes along with incoming freshman.
The NCAA signaled earlier this month its willingness to extend eligibility. The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments were canceled because of the pandemic, and spring sports were halted.
"In principle, the coordination committee agrees relief should be extended to spring sport student-athletes and supports providing schools with a framework in which they have the autonomy to make their own decisions in the best interest of their campus, conference and student-athletes," the council said in a March 13 news release.
At the time, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith gave his support for such a decision. But as Monday approached, it didn’t seem to be quite a done deal.
Concerns about roster management and financial concerns developed, especially in light of budget issues that athletic programs are likely to face because of potential revenue shortfalls. The NCAA reported on Thursday that it would distribute only $225 million out of what was expected to be $600 million to member schools as a result of March Madness being canceled.
USA TODAY reported last week that it would cost public schools in the Power Five conferences from $500,000 to $900,000 to pay for the extra year of eligibility.
Student-athletes must now decide whether to take advantage of the extra eligibility. Most athletes in sports other than football and basketball are on partial scholarships, so an extra year will add to their costs. Some no doubt will be ready to move on to the next phase of their lives.
Carpenter was unsure what he will do.
"That's a decision I'd have to talk about with coach (Greg) Beals and my parents and my teammates," he said. "I've been here for a while and I think it wouldn't be fair to anybody to make just a rash, emotional decision. So I think it's something that I'll take a little bit of time to think about it and use all the resources I have to talk to and go from there."
For others, it’s an easier call. Carpenter’s teammate and fellow senior Conner Pohl said he’d return.
"Oh, I'm coming back — yeah, for sure," he said.
Ohio State men’s tennis player Kyle Seelig, the team’s captain, also said he intends to return.
"I think it can be a cool opportunity to come back and play again with the same guys," said Seelig, who’s on track to graduate in May. "I love all the guys on the team and miss them a lot. So I think it'd be hard to say no to that, and I can get some more schooling done."
Ohio State’s athletes are scattered around the country in their hometowns as they take online classes. It has been a strange spring for them, as it has been for everyone.
"Right now it's boring," said Pohl, who’s back in Arcanum, in western Ohio. "There's so much time on my hands, and I've never been used to that. I can really just do whatever I want. But at the same time, I can't really do what I want because of the quarantine and everything going on."
The Division I Council includes athletic directors, conference commissioners, faculty athletic representatives, senior women’s administrators and two student-athletes, including Ethan Good of Bowling Green.
Earlier Monday, a group of 60 Student-Athlete Advisory Committee representatives released a letter urging the NCAA Division I Council to extend eligibility for a year for spring- and winter-sport athletes whose seasons were cut short. The advisory committee also recommended that student-athletes be able to tap into the Student Assistance Fund for housing and food support.