By Matthew Soderberg | Sports Writer
The NCAA announced Monday that all spring-sport athletes would receive an eligibility waiver and increase in scholarship counts, allowing players who would have aged out to return for another year. The Division I Council declined to give the same aid to winter sports.
The council’s decision comes on the heels of every collegiate season getting canceled due to concerns over COVID-19, including the first year without March Madness since 1938. It will be up to individual schools to decide how they will provide aid to returning athletes and will have to take account how their decisions will impact incoming freshmen.Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at the University of Pennsylvania, said they wanted the universities to take the lead on the issue.
“The Council’s decision gives individual schools the flexibility to make decisions at a campus level,” Calhoun said in a statement released after the vote. “The Board of Governors encouraged conferences and schools to take action in the best interest of student-athletes and their communities, and now schools have the opportunity to do that.”
Baylor already has three athletes committed to coming back next season, as men’s golf’s Colin Kober and Cooper Dossey and women’s tennis’ Angelina Shakhraichuk all went to Twitter to announce their intention to stay. Dossey, the No. 9 player in the country according to Golfweek, said he’s “excited” to take care of unfinished business.
“Baylor has been in my heart my whole life,” Dossey said. “I’ve bled green and gold since I was a baby. Coming back to Baylor is very important and meaningful to me … I’m grateful for the NCAA for granting us another year, so I can come back and be with my teammates and coaches as we compete for another chance at winning a national championship.”
The decision leaves Baylor basketball players like Freddie Gillespie, Devonte Bandoo, Obim Okeke, Juicy Landrum, Te’a Cooper, Erin Degrate and Lauren Cox (though she projects as a high pick in the upcoming WNBA draft) without closure.
The Council said adding scholarships and eligibility relief for winter sports wasn’t an issue because they had completed “all or much of their regular season.”