Report: NCAA Unlikely to Grant Extra Eligibility to Athletes in Winter Sports

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 18, 2020

Oregon's Sabrina Ionescu (20) plays against Stanford during an NCAA college basketball game in the final of the Pac-12 women's tournament Sunday, March 8, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
John Locher/Associated Press

College athletes in winter sports reportedly aren't going to be given another year of eligibility by the NCAA, despite seeing their season cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

According to Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports, the organization is "unlikely to grant an extra year of eligibility" to those athletes, though student-athletes in spring sports will be given eligibility relief. 

Basketball, hockey, rifle, bowling (women), fencing, gymnastics, skiing, swimming and diving, indoor track and field, and wrestling (men) are all classified as winter sports by the NCAA. Spring sports include baseball, beach volleyball (women), golf, lacrosse, rowing (women), softball (women), tennis, outdoor track and field, volleyball (men) and water polo (women). 

Last week, the NCAA canceled all of its winter and spring championships, including the men's and women's basketball tournaments. The men's tournament has been played every year since its inception in 1939. 

The NCAA wasn't alone in putting a halt to its sports, with the NBA, NHL, PGA Tour and the major European soccer competitions all going on hiatus amid the coronavirus pandemic. But it is likely that the organizing body's decision to not grant winter athletes another year of eligibility will be met with public backlash:

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When March Madness was canceled, East Tennessee State men's basketball coach Steve Forbes felt for his seniors, per ESPN:

"While I wholeheartedly support this decision, I would like to be a part of the conversation, in conjunction with the Southern Conference and the NCAA, in giving our five seniors another year of eligibility, so they once again have the opportunity turn their dreams into reality by having the chance to play in the NCAA tournament next year." 

To date, there have been 193,475 reported cases of the coronavirus worldwide, according to CNN, with 7,864 deaths. In the United States, there have been 4,356 reported cases and 79 deaths, though it's possible that the actual number of people infected with the coronavirus is higher, given the reportedly limited testing done in the U.S. to this point.