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The NCAA Awards All 2020-21 Winter Sports Athletes An Extra Year Of Eligibility

They already did the same for 2020 spring and 2020 fall athletes, so it was only a matter of time, I suppose.

Coronavirus Cases Causes Johns Hopkins To Ban Fans At NCAA Division III Basketball Tournament Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

On Wednesday, the NCAA’s Division 1 Council voted and thus decided that all Division 1 winter sports athletes active during the 2020-21 school year will be granted an extra year of college eligibility for their respective sports. In addition to the extra eligibility, they have also been granted an extra year’s timeframe in which to use it. This decision was reached to a certain extent because the coronavirus pandemic has already affected the 2020-21 basketball season, moving the start date from November 10th to November 25th. We have absolutely no idea how much or how little of the 2020-21 winter sports season will actually get played, and so the NCAA is viewing the entire enterprise as a freebie year for everyone involved. It’s the same thing that the NCAA has already done for spring 2020 student athletes as well as fall 2020 student athletes, so I suppose it’s not surprising that this is happening for the winter 2020-21 athletes.

For Marquette, this affects men’s and women’s basketball as well as indoor track and field athletes on both sides of the aisle. FUN FACT: I just learned that indoor track and field is officially a winter sport in the NCAA’s eyes. To use a Marquette basketball example to explain how this all will work, Justin Lewis will be a freshman for the Golden Eagles and head coach Steve Wojciechowski in 2020-21. Lewis will then be — for all practical purposes — a redshirt freshman in 2021-22, and continue about his eligibility from there. Of course, there’s nothing requiring Lewis to stay with the team for five seasons. This is merely an accommodation by the NCAA to make up for the fact that we don’t know what will happen to games and schedules between now and March. It is possible that Lewis will play for four years and then leave MU and college altogether even with a year of eligibility remaining.

There is one note to all of this that we have to discuss, though. According to ESPN’s Jeff Borzello, 2020-21 seniors will be allowed to return for that extra year and not count against the 13 scholarship limit for men’s basketball or 15 for women’s basketball. Again, to use the Marquette roster as an example: Selena Lott can return to play for Megan Duffy in 2021-22, and Duffy can add two more players as freshmen or by transfer to the roster for a total of 16.

However that extra allowance will only be made for the 2021-22 year. If, for example, Chloe Marotta were to return for a super senior year in the 2022-23 season, then she would count as one of Megan Duffy’s 15 allowed scholarships.

Borzello’s clarification is spinning off of a different clarification from Stadium’s Jeff Goodman. That allowance for the scholarship limit in 2021-22 also only counts for the institution that the player is already attending. If Theo John, for example, wanted to take the opportunity to graduate and transfer elsewhere to spend his super senior season in 2021-22, he can. However, if he does, John would count towards his new team’s scholarship limit.

If I have lost you here, I don’t blame you. It’s kind of confusing. If you thought that was all confusing, then you’re not going to enjoy this next part at all.

A regular part of our recruiting coverage here at Anonymous Eagle is the scholarship chart. When there’s a limit to how many players you can have on scholarship, then tracking how many you’re scheduled to have on scholarship is pretty important or at the very least newsworthy enough to keep an eye on! As you can imagine, trying to track the scholarships for players who now have five years of eligibility that they’re not required to use is going to be a little bit complicated. So here’s what we’re going to do.

College is, traditionally, a four year enterprise. In fact, once we get into next year’s freshman class, those players will only have four years of eligibility. As such, the traditional green/yellow/orange/red shading on the scholarship charts for freshman/sophomore/junior/senior years will remain in place. However, for everyone who is on a 2020-21 Marquette basketball roster, both men’s and women’s, we have added a notation of (CV?) in what would be their fifth season of eligibility. CoronaVirus Question, get it? After all, we’re not really going to have any idea who is and is not going to use that extra year until we actually get there, and some of those decisions are still more than three years away!

Here’s what the men’s scholarship chart looks like....

And here’s what the women’s chart now looks like.

To be honest, this all ended up looking a lot less visually messy than I was expecting it to when I sat down to make the changes.

So there’s the explainer as to why those notes are on the scholarship charts that you’re going to be looking at between now and the summer of 2024. By then, we’ll know for sure who is going to stick around for 2024-25, and then we can just convert that last group to red shading for their second senior years.

This will, of course, create a total mess when talking about how many scholarships Steve Wojciechowski and Megan Duffy have available a year or two down the road. I apologize in advance for the complete pile of word salad that you’re going to have to put up with on every new scholarship offer and commitment article.