By Katie Howerter
College athletes all around the nation have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Winter and spring sports seasons have been unexpectedly cut short, leaving the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) with the debate to grant senior athletes another year of eligibility.
The remaining competitions within the calendar year were cancelled on March 12 in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
On March 30, the NCAA voted on the subject and approved the extra year of eligibility for spring sports athletes. There was some controversy regarding the financial effects of the extra year on the institutions that provide them.
There were several factors that were taken into consideration such as scholarships, academics, team roster availability and financial aid. The matter had to be voted on because some of the winter sports seasons were either completed or coming to an end.
According to the NCAA website, the extension of eligibility also leads to adjusted financial aid rules, which will allow programs to carry more members of their team on scholarship to account for the incoming recruits as well those student-athletes returning who are in their last year of eligibility.
“It wouldn’t be possible for me to play another year if my scholarship was reduced. I depend on my athletic scholarship to mitigate the skyrocketing rate of tuition,” said Sacred Heart women’s rugby senior, Allie Rinaldi.
The current precautionary measures being carried out to prevent the spread of the virus are also preventing recruiting from taking place. Coaches usually take this time to go out and recruit for new members of the team.
“I do think there will be an impact on recruiting, unfortunately. If prospective students can’t see the school or see us play, they will be less likely to come here,” said women’s rugby player, Tyfanny Brisbane.
Athletes have faced some disadvantages including the closing of public gyms and sports training facilities, and the inability to practice together as a team.
“Our strength and conditioning coach, Ryan Gipson, sends us daily body weight workouts. If we have equipment at home, he makes us our own workout plans,” said Brisbane. “He is very invested in our physical health and mental health.”
Coaches have overcome adversity by keeping the communication lines between the team open with online video.
“Our team has been having weekly online video sessions to stay connected, where we discuss film and rugby strategies,” said Rinaldi. “I don’t think the team dynamic in the fall will be affected by this because we’re staying connected.”
All NCAA athletes are typically granted five years to complete four seasons in their sport. With this rule, the five year “clock” is extended by a year, according to the NCAA.
The NCAA has received backlash since its decision and is attempting to work out the issues.
“I didn’t expect it at all. At the beginning of the week, we were running practice as usual, and then by Wednesday we were being told to clean our lockers out,” said Brisbane. “It happened so fast that I couldn’t process very much, but I’m okay now. I played every game like it was my last, so I have no regrets.”