In wake of the coronavirus pandemic forcing the NCAA to cancel all winter and spring athletic championships, many wondered if players that didn't get to finish on their terms would be granted additional eligibility.
Well, we have our answer.
The NCAA announced that spring sport athletes affected by their seasons being cut drastically short will all be granted an additional year of eligibility which includes sports such as softball, track and field, and baseball. The later sport will increase their limit to players allowed as baseball is the spring sport with such a limit according to the NCAA press release.
This is good news for athletes such as Oregon softball star Haley Cruse who saw her senior season cut short after a great start to the season. If she wants to come back she can, although she tweeted earlier that she hadn't made a decision yet.
To be clear, I am only mourning the loss of a promising season for our team. I have not yet had the time or been given the information necessary to make any decisions about what comes next!— Haley Cruse (@haley_crusee) March 15, 2020
However, winter sports athletes did not get the same treatment as many of them got to play all, if not most of their regular seasons, and just missed out on a chance to compete for a national championship.
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
This includes senior basketball athletes such as Payton Pritchard, Sabrina Ionescu, Tres Tinkle, and Mikayla Pivec. The first three still all planned to pursue a professional career regardless if they had received an additional year or not, but Mikalya Pivec said that she would have taken another year "in a heartbeat" and returned to Corvallis.
She will not get that chance. All four of them, among the best players in their respective program's histories, had their college careers ended due to no actions of their own, but rather because they happened to play their senior seasons during the beginning of an unprecedented pandemic in United States history.
College basketball writer Sam Vecenie of The Athletic was not surprised about the decision.
Not a surprise that winter sport athletes ended up not getting another year of eligibility. There were some vocal coaches in favor, but the ones I spoke with behind the scenes were pretty dubious, and felt it would create as many problems (if not more) than it helped— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) March 30, 2020
But it's hard to not feel for the seniors affected by this decision. Only 2% of college basketball athletes go on to play professionally so that means 98% of college basketball seniors had their competitive playing careers ended because they just happened to be born when they did. Nothing they could have done on the court would have changed that, and that is too bad.