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Ivy League allows senior athletes to play as grad students


ALLSTON, MA - DECEMBER 07: General view of the Harvard Crimson logo on a ball racket during a college basketball game between UMass Minutemen and Harvard Crimson on December 7, 2019, at Lavietes Pavilion in Allston, MA. (Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

NEW YORK -- The Ivy League will allow current senior athletes to play sports as full-time grad students at their current university next year in a break with longstanding policies.

The change is a result of COVID-19, which canceled a full year of sports. Athletes must stay at the schools they are currently at to receive this exemption and must be admitted at the grad schools through regular channels the league confirmed to The Associated Press on Thursday.

“In granting this waiver, the presidents acknowledge the unique impact of the pandemic during the current academic year across all three sport seasons for those students in their final year of Ivy League eligibility. This change is a direct result of the pandemic and will not be available in future years,” the league wrote to senior athletes in an email obtained by the AP.

The Ivy League has had a a policy that only permitted undergraduate students to compete on athletic teams. Even when the NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility to all athletes in October because of the coronavirus, Ivy League competitors would have had to transfer to schools outside the conference to get their grad year.

It’s unclear as to how many athletes will be able to take advantage of this new exemption as many grad schools have already had their applications due and there are the financial costs.

The Ivy League presidents met on Tuesday and decided to make the one-time exemption for the seniors. The Ivy League Student Athletic Advisory Council had asked the presidents to consider making this change.

While the Ivies became the only Division I conference this year to cancel all winter sports, including men’s and women’s basketball, there has been no decision yet made about the spring season. That is expected in the coming weeks.

In an email obtained by the AP, the Ivy League wrote to the council that it commends “this group for coming together organically and workings towards such a thoughtful proposal.”