NCAA D-I Council Proposes Eligibility Changes for Fall Student-Athletes

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistAugust 19, 2020

FILE - In this April 19, 2019, file photo, an athlete stands near a NCAA logo during a softball game in Beaumont, Texas. The NCAA is poised to take a significant step toward allowing college athletes to earn money without violating amateurism rules. The Board of Governors will be briefed Tuesday, Oct. 29 by administrators who have been examining whether it would be feasible to allow college athletes to profit of their names, images and likenesses. A California law set to take effect in 2023 would make it illegal for NCAA schools in the state to prevent athletes from signing personal endorsement deals. (AP Photo/Aaron M. Sprecher, File)
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With many fall sports and football seasons postponed across the country and plenty of uncertainty remaining for others, the NCAA Division I Council reportedly recommended a policy that would preserve the eligibility of student-athletes who do compete in the fall.

Per the NCAA's official website, the council decided Wednesday that any fall student-athlete who competes this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic will not lose a season of eligibility.

Nicole Auerbach of The Athletic added that should the proposal go into effect, current seniors would not count against the scholarship limit in 2021:

Nicole Auerbach 😷 @NicoleAuerbach

Source tells @TheAthleticCFB that, if this passes, current seniors will be exempted from 2021 scholarship limits (same thing happened with spring athletes who got a year of eligibility back).

Bryan Fischer @BryanDFischer

Source added all fall championships will be moved to spring (including FCS Playoff). Up to various committees to determine who/when/where plan. Will still need to approve the actual go-ahead of events in 2021 so cancellation still looming but more concrete planning starts now.

Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports noted the NCAA Board of Governors still has to approve the proposal Friday.

The NCAA Division I Council also passed a recommendation from the Football Oversight Committee allowing teams that postponed their seasons until the spring to still hold 12 hours of practices, meetings and workouts per week during the fall, per Thamel.

That means the teams in the Big Ten and Pac-12, which both postponed their seasons until the spring, can practice while they wait for specific details about their potential spring season.

The NCAA Division I Council also approved the idea of moving fall championships to the spring, although questions remain:

Pete Thamel @PeteThamel

The questions remains: How do you construct the field of seasons that unfold separately?

Football is the headliner of the fall sports season, and the ACC, Big 12 and SEC are still planning on holding their seasons in the fall as of now. However, it didn't take long for the difficulties of doing so to become clear.

North Carolina announced it suspended athletic activities until at least 5 p.m. ET Thursday because of COVID-19 outbreaks on campus. Notre Dame paused practice Wednesday and may do so again Thursday for the same reason, per Thamel.

Oklahoma head football coach Lincoln Riley announced nine players on his team tested positive for COVID-19, while Nick Suss of the Mississippi Clarion Ledger reported 13 Ole Miss athletes and one employee tested positive for COVID-19.

The NCAA already canceled all fall championships, but that didn't include the Football Bowl Subdivision. Under the latest proposal, all athletes may get an additional year of eligibility regardless of how the fall season plays out.