On March 30, it was announced that the NCAA Division I Council voted to allow schools to provide spring-sport student-athletes an additional season of competition and an extension of eligibility.
The council also voted to adjust financial aid rules to allow teams to carry more members on scholarship to account for incoming recruits and student-athletes who decide to stay another year after their senior season ended prematurely.
Seniors who have chosen to return will be allowed to have the same scholarship amount, while that scholarship amount will not be calculated into the regular scholarships.
I believe the NCAA made the right decision.
Spring sports were cut short from the COVID-19 outbreak as the NCAA shut down the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments, and conferences then decided to cancel their own basketball tournaments, along with spring sport competition.
While this vote doesn’t allow for student-athletes of winter sports, like basketball, to regain an extra year of eligibility, it does all for spring sport athletes.
While trying to come up with a list of UCA student-athletes that had their season’s cut short, I found there are 34 seniors that are eligible to return across baseball, softball, beach volleyball, track and field and tennis.
Baseball had the largest number with Paul Rouse, Cole Fiori, Coby Potvin, Alonso Bibiano, Beau Orlando, Ty Callahan, Mark Moyer, Christian Brasher, Brad Verel, Josh Ragan, Connor Williams and Nathaniel Sagdahl.
The baseball Bears started their season out 8-8 with a 2-1 Southland Conference opening series win over Southeastern Louisiana, and then a 5-3 win over the University of Tennessee at Martin.
Men’s track and field followed with nine seniors, including: Zac Bitton, Luis Colon, Jared Hamilton, Jaron Hamilton, Alex Hanson, Coty Hoskins, Zachary Jewell, Christopher Walker and Ryan Yarde.
In their most recent competition, the men finished tied for seventh in the Southland Indoor Championship.
Softball came next with six seniors, including Cylla Hill, Lauren Brooks, Jordan Ward, Kailla Searcy, Kayla Crutchmer and Kaylyn Shepherd.
The softball Bears went 18-9 to start their season and a SLC series opening sweep against the University of the Incarnate Word.
Beach volleyball had gotten off to a great start at 7-1 with seniors Makenna Schmitt, Mackenzie Dear, Kelly Douglas and Kimmy Schnars.
And, the women’s track and field team had seniors Aysha Anderson, Ajah Criner and Erin Woodward.
They finished fifth in the Southland Indoor Championships.
While these seniors had their seasons cut short, it stands to reason that they could be key contributors to the 2021 season if they so choose to return.
Rosters limits will be relaxed, but this all has truly set things back.
In an Associated Press article written by Eric Olson, in which he says Ohio State baseball coach Greg Beals isn’t worried about 2021, but is worried about 2022 because the limit will be back in force and he will have a freshman class of 20, which will complicate a roster that is supposed to carry 35.
Underperforming players will likely be persuaded to transfer or quit as the roster crunch begins.
While this is happening at the collegiate level, professional sports are crunching draft classes.
MLB has announced it will likely go away from the traditional 40-round draft to a five-round draft, effectively dropping the 2020 draft class from 1,200 to 150, which could persuade collegiate baseball players to stay for the extra year of eligibility.
Hendrix’s senior class is as follows with an added extra year of eligibility: baseball has Sean Dehne, Ford Sherrington, Joshua Rollins, Evan Ingram, Hayden Seay, Colin Brown and Evan Orren; men’s lacrosse has Brendan Rolland, Patrick Adamo, Elias Ramos and Ben Tourville; men’s tennis has Nikhil Nair and Parker Work; women’s golf has Stephanie Leake and Peyton Penny; women’s lacrosse has Sophie Mazzaro, Ashley Ybarra, Hannah Burroughs, Hagan Griffith, Amber Turner, Calah Justice and Nadine Matena; softball has Aubrey Bring, Tyalor Oglesby and Jordan Mallard; women’s tennis has Sara Hoopchuk and Rebecca Sherman; and track and field has Bailey Brya and Kiersten Huitt.
The NAIA has also granted another year of eligibility and seniors from Central Baptist College include: from baseball Gavin Johnson, Trynt Tompkins, Kelvin Volquez, Dillon Bonee, Kannon Bradley, Will Hodges, Gerard Mendez and Austyn Cochran; from men’s golf Leyton Clark, Spencer LaBarbera and Taylor Morton; from men’s track and field Jian Bender, Cody Duffey, Cody McKnight, Dalton Parker and Jamal Washington; from women’s golf Shelby Raborn; and from softball Rachael Jones, Kym House and Alyssa Estrada.