NCAA grants extra year of eligibility to winter athletes among several other key new rules and proposals

Every member of the Indiana basketball team will receive an extra year of eligibility.

Following the same path it blazed for spring and fall athletes during the pandemic, the NCAA has passed a rule to grant an extra year of eligibility to all winter athletes.

“Winter sport student-athletes who compete during 2020-21 in Division I will receive both an additional season of competition and an additional year in which to complete it,” the NCAA said in a release.  “The same flexibility was provided to student-athletes after the spring season was canceled in 2020 and the fall season was seriously impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The NCAA cited anticipated impacts during the winter season, equality with spring and fall athletes, and the localization of decision-making as key factors in reaching its decision.

“The pandemic will continue to impact winter sport seasons in ways we can’t predict. Council members opted to provide for winter sport student-athletes the same flexibility given spring and fall sports previously,” said Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Pennsylvania. “The actions today ensure the continuation of local decision-making in the best interest of each institution and its student-athletes.”

Under the rule, Indiana’s roster will be eligible to return for the 2020-21 season with the same remaining eligibility that each player has now.  Final year players Al Durham and Joey Brunk could return if they chose to.

The NCAA did not comment on whether it would increase the amount of allowable scholarships.  Permitted scholarships were increased for football.

New proposal would expand transfer exception

The NCAA also appears to be moving towards allowing a one-time transfer for men’s basketball without requiring that players sit out for a season.

Under the proposal, all Division I student-athletes would have the ability to transfer and compete immediately once during their collegiate experience if a measure introduced by the Division I Council is adopted. The Council met by videoconference Tuesday and Wednesday.

Currently, student-athletes who participate in baseball, football, men’s and women’s basketball, and men’s ice hockey are not eligible to transfer and compete immediately without a waiver.

The waiver process isn’t well understood and has been a source of frustration for coaches.

The Council intends to vote on the measure during the 2021 NCAA Convention in January. If approved, it would be effective for student-athletes who seek to be immediately eligible for competition during the 2021-22 academic year.

DI Council approves football bowl eligibility requirements waiver

The Division I Council waived bowl eligibility requirements for the 2020-21 bowl season and waived the minimum number of contests for all football teams.

In normal circumstances to qualify for a postseason bowl game, a team must meet the criteria to be considered a deserving team, which is generally defined as having a .500 overall record. The Football Oversight Committee’s recommendation waives that requirement for the 2020-21 season. Additionally, the window for postseason games, only for the 2020-21 season, opens Dec. 1 and closes Jan. 11.

Indiana faces a nine game, all Big Ten schedule in 2020.

DI Council introduces name, image and likeness concepts into legislative cycle

Division I moved a step closer to changing its name, image and likeness rules when the Division I Council this week introduced concepts providing more opportunities for student-athletes into the 2020-21 legislative cycle.

“This is an important milestone in the progress toward modernizing Division I rules to better support student-athletes in all of their endeavors,” said Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Pennsylvania. “We know additional refinements may be needed as we make sure modifications are fair, recognize the importance of the current recruiting structure and that every student-athlete has the same opportunity to benefit.

If adopted, the measures would:

  • Allow student-athletes to use their name, image and likeness to promote camps and clinics, private lessons, their own products and services, and commercial products or services.
  • Allow student-athletes to be paid for their autographs and personal appearances.
  • Allow student-athletes to crowdfund for nonprofits or charitable organizations, catastrophic events and family hardships, as well as for educational expenses not covered by cost of attendance.
  • Allow student-athletes the opportunity to use professional advice and marketing assistance regarding name, image and likeness activities, as well as professional representation in contract negotiations related to name, image and likeness activities, with some restrictions.
  • Prohibit schools from being involved in the development, operation or promotion of a student-athlete’s business activity, unless the activity is developed as part of a student’s coursework or academic program.
  • Prohibit schools from arranging or securing endorsement opportunities for student-athletes.

Student-athletes would not be permitted to use their school’s marks in any advertisements, endorsements, personal appearances or promotions. Additionally, they could not participate in activities involving a commercial product or service that conflicts with NCAA legislation (such as sports wagering or banned substances), and schools would have the opportunity to prohibit activities that conflict with school values or existing sponsorship arrangements. The school would be required to disclose activities that would be prohibited at the time a student is admitted or signs a financial aid agreement.

Both prospective and current student-athletes would be required to disclose name, image and likeness activities, including compensation arrangements and details of relationships developed through the process. The group continues to support use of a third-party administrator to assist with overseeing the disclosure process; monitoring and reporting name, image and likeness activities; and educating key stakeholders, including student-athletes, prospective student-athletes, boosters and professional service providers.

The Division I Council requested the Legislative Solutions Group package the concepts as several independent proposals for a Council vote in January 2021.

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