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NCAA Grants Extra Year of Eligibility for Fall Sports Athletes

LINCOLN — The NCAA Division I Board of Governors on Friday granted an extra year of eligibility to fall sports athletes in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The widely expected decision is similar to the one the NCAA made for spring sport athletes who lost part or all of their seasons due to the pandemic. The difference? Fall sport athletes may still get their full seasons — either this fall or in winter/spring of 2021.

The blanket waiver could allow for a true free year of collegiate sports. The Nebraska volleyball team, for example, could have a full season next spring and still return seniors Lauren Stivrins, Lexi Sun, Jazz Sweet and Hayley Densberger for the following season. Creighton volleyball’s four seniors could do the same.

Typical scholarship limits for fall sports will be expanded in 2021-22 to accommodate the waiver. Only seniors will not count against the scholarship limits. The waiver doesn’t require schools to offer an extra year of scholarship money to those athletes; it just allows schools to do so if they choose.
As it related to spring sports, Nebraska chose to honor those partial scholarships and roster spots. Wisconsin, for example, did not.

The discussion could be a little different, though, when it relates to full scholarship sports like football and volleyball. While the cost is higher, the value of keeping a highly valued player for an extra year has its appeal, too.