NCAA Talk

Maxwell 'Bunchie' Young from the NFL’s Super Bowl video already has a scholarship offer from Lovie Smith

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USA TODAY

Maxwell 'Bunchie' Young from the NFL’s Super Bowl video already has a scholarship offer from Lovie Smith

Remember the kid sporting the cool faux-hawk in the NFL’s star-studded Super Bowl video? There is a chance he could be coming to Urbana-Champaign in five years.

Back in 2017, University of Illinois head coach and former Bears coach Lovie Smith offered then 10-year-old Maxwell “Bunchie” Young a scholarship to play for the Fighting Illini. Bunchie, now 13, starred in the NFL’s “NEXT 100” video, in which he was seen navigating famous football faces and various locales around the US before charging the Super Bowl LIV stadium in Miami. Young had been previously profiled by ESPN and was named Sports Illustrated SportsKid of the Year in 2017.

The news of the scholarship offer from Illinois three years ago opened up a larger conversation around schools recruiting and offering kids at such a young age. In the case of Young, he won’t be eligible to play for the Illini until 2025. Smith’s current contract expires long before that so there's always a chance that the coaching staff that made the offer won't be in place when Young is eligible to play. According to NCAA rules, schools can't make written scholarship offers until August of the player’s senior season. Verbal offers, however, are a different story.

Young wasn’t the only Chicagoland connection in the NFL’s ode to the next 100 years of football. Bears owner Virginia McCaskey had a supporting role near the end of the video, sporting Bears gear and presenting Young with the ball before he ran into the Super Bowl stadium. McCaskey filmed her cameo at Halas Hall in Lake Forest, which led to another local highlight.

Libertyville High School’s football field made an appearance about a minute into the video, the location chosen due to its proximity to Halas Hall. About a minute in, Young is seen sprinting onto the Libertyville field to intercept a pass from Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman before holding the ball for a field-goal attempt by US women’s soccer star Carli Lloyd.

NCAA announces an extra year of eligibility for spring athletes

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NCAA announces an extra year of eligibility for spring athletes

The NCAA announced Monday evening they will allow spring athletes an extra year of eligibility after the spring season was upended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

After the announcement was made, many fans immediately noticed that this was only for spring athletes (baseball, softball, lacrosse, etc.) and not for winter athletes. Winter athletes, including basketball, had their seasons suddenly cut short as the pandemic dramatically increased in severity in February and March, right as these teams were entering postseason play.

In their official statement, the NCAA cited excluding winter athletes from the extension because their regular season had either ended or had been nearly completed. 

Winter sports were not included in the decision. Council members declined to extend eligibility for student-athletes in sports where all or much of their regular seasons were completed.

NCAA cancels men's and women's basketball tournaments due to COVID-19 

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NCAA cancels men's and women's basketball tournaments due to COVID-19 

In response to COVID-19, the NCAA announced Thursday they've officially canceled the 2020 men's and women's basketball tournaments.

"Today, NCAA President Mark Emmert and the Board of Governors canceled the Division I men’s and women’s 2020 basketball tournaments, as well as all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships," the NCAA said in a statement. 

"This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities."

There briefly was hope the tournaments could go on without fans, but as the circumstances around the coronavirus grow, it became clear cancelation was inevitable and the only reasonable option.

Thirteen conferences had already canceled their conference tournaments at the time of the announcement. This includes the A10, AAC, ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, MAC, Pac 12 and SEC.