Hawaii athletics: NCAA to offer eligibility relief for spring sports student-athletes
In very quick fashion, the NCAA responded to a groundswell of support for thousands of student-athletes affected by its decision Thursday to cancel its spring sports championships and effectively end the seasons — and in some cases, careers — for those players.
The NCAA tweeted Friday, in part, that “eligibility relief is appropriate for all Division I student-athletes that participated in spring sports.”
Division I Council Coordination Committee agrees eligibility relief is appropriate for spring sports: pic.twitter.com/u7hwYOyTDV
— Inside the NCAA (@InsidetheNCAA) March 13, 2020
UPDATE: Athletic director David Matlin was asked about the subject in a group media interview at noon Friday.
Hawaii AD David Matlin on the possibility of NCAA student-athlete eligibility extensions because of #coronavirus season cancellations.
“We would need to take a look at that. It’s something that’s definitely a good conversation to have.”
He also noted unintended consequences. pic.twitter.com/fSqyZSSzy6
— Hawaii Warrior World (@hawaiiwworld) March 13, 2020
Basketball and swimming and diving count as winter sports, so athletes in those sports would not be eligible.
UH’s spring sports are baseball, beach volleyball, golf, men’s volleyball, softball, tennis, outdoor track and water polo. Sailing is not an NCAA sport. It would apparently apply to all D-I athletes, and not just seniors.
Three UH sports had realistic hopes for a national championship in 2020. The men’s volleyball team was ranked No. 2 nationally, water polo was No. 3 and beach volleyball was No. 4.
However, it’s not just as easy as automatically bringing back a full team. Players who graduate may wish to move on to the next chapter in their lives. There are scholarship considerations — what happens when an incoming recruit who was promised a scholarship arrives, but a scholarship player expected to leave remains? Who pays for it? As the NCAA notes, “additional issues with NCAA rules must be addressed.”
UPDATE: The NCAA went ahead and is offering Division III spring student-athletes another semester or season of eligibility.
Division III Administrative Committee decisions: pic.twitter.com/wBB7IkW1C1
— NCAA Division III (@NCAADIII) March 13, 2020
Again, the better heeled schools could benefit from this ruling. For them, cost is not a factor. For schools like UH that struggles to manage a financially challenged budget, the additional cost may compel administration to not offer this option to the seniors affected by a Covid-19 shortened season.
Seemlessly, I think the coaches for each respected sport should do two things:
1) Ask the seniors if they want to redshirt and stay here to claim some unfinished business.
2) Ask the seniors if they really want to finish their final days at UH and graduate.
While yes, limited scholarships could be up to question, you would hate to see them feel disappointed on their season cancelled by some unknown reason. The coronavirus debacle has seriously dampened everybody’s mood and pretty much has afflicted all schools across financially, not just ours. But here, it’s really disappointing to imagine how much really the teams could have done had this sort of thing not happened. Honestly, I think the student-athletes should be given an opportunity to rethink and consider their options before making such a posthaste decision to graduate. It’s just me, but I’m just throwing suggestions to see if it can be an idea worth noting.
The UHAD will need to do a lot of PR and hope alumni’s and friends will donate money for scholarship relief fund for those qualifying for an additional year. He should let everyone know how much is needed to complete this fundraiser and once that goal is achieved any extra will funds will remain in this relief fund for another rainy day.