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Winter athletes to receive extra year of eligibility

Cal winter sports athletes will now receive a free year of eligibility during the coronavirus pandemic

NCAA Basketball Tournament - First Round - Spokane Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The California Golden Bears winter student-athletes already had their 2019-20 season affected by the coronavirus pandemic, shutting down their postseasons and altering the ends of their academic years.

Unlike the student-athletes who participated in spring, summer and fall athletic activities, those who play winter sports were still left with questions this year as to whether or not their eligibility would be washed this year or not.

The spring and fall student-athletes were already given a one-time exemption of eligibility due to playing their respective sports during the global pandemic (fall) or having their entire seasons canceled earlier this year (spring).

The winter athletes, however, were not granted any such guidance, that is until this week.

The NCAA’s Division I Council approved an additional year of eligibility for all winter student-athletes after a vote for a one-time rule change in response to the ongoing pandemic.

“We felt it was important to make this decision now so student-athletes had the peace of mind to go into this season and compete,” Council Chair Grace Calhoun told ESPN on Wednesday. “They know they can regain that eligibility and have their clock automatically extended, so they’re not taking that chance on the front end if they choose to compete.”

It is also reported that the Council is pushing forward with two other rule changes including the name, image and likeness process as well as one-time transfer allowances without having to sit out.

Those are down the road, and the main takeaway here is that all 2020 student-athlete participants will now have a free year of eligibility, and thus will have that area of their thought processes cleared up so they can focus on school and their athletics.