By Pat Kelleher
The world is currently experiencing a global pandemic. The coronavirus started out in China and has made its way through Europe, and now the United States. On Mar. 12, the sports world came to a stop. The NBA and NHL seasons were suspended, the start of the MLB season was postponed, the Masters tournament and the Kentucky Derby were also postponed.
Perhaps the most shocking development was the cancellation of the collegiate men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. For the first time since the tournaments were launched in 1939, March Madness will not take place. While doing so, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) also decided to cancel all spring sports seasons, abruptly ending the college careers for all senior baseball, softball, lacrosse and other spring sport athletes.
In response to this, the NCAA decided to grant all spring athletes an extra year of eligibility. Meghan Miller joined the Sacred Heart department of athletics staff in 2012. She serves as the Senior Associate Athletics Director for Compliance, and is also the Pioneers Senior Women Administrator.
“You have to have empathy for those seniors who have seen their collegiate playing careers come to a close in such a sudden fashion,” said Miller. “The NCAA anticipates granting relief in this area, but there are many moving parts and much more information still to be determined. We look forward to hearing from the NCAA in regards to their recommendations.”
With the outbreak of the virus just in the beginning stages, the NCAA and everyone involved right now have one priority: to ensure the health and safety of all the college athletes.
“The past week has been hyper-focused on caring for our student-athletes and helping them adjust to new schedules and learning practices,” said Miller.
Firstly, the university and the NCAA have to make sure everyone is safe and secure during this difficult time. There are a lot of moving parts to the virus situation, so the university is taking it day by day.
The situation with the extra year of eligibility is tricky, and raises further questions. Does this now take away scholarships? What does this mean now for incoming freshman recruits in terms of their own eligibility? How will programs navigate the situation with limited scholarships and limited roster spots?
“With all of that whirlwind, we are in the infancy of seeing how potential NCAA guidelines and legislative changes will impact our student-athletes, our programs and the university as a whole. There are many moving parts at the moment, and we will tackle them as they come,” said Miller.
Luckily for the NCAA, Sacred Heart and all the spring sports programs, they have a good amount of time now to figure out how this will affect the rosters going into next spring season. As the situation is so unprecedented, everyone is taking every precaution necessary to secure their health and safety before focusing on next season.