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NCAA Spring Senior Athletes Granted Extra Year of Eligibility

Updated: Oct 28, 2020

By: Maxmillian Robinson

Senior Kelli Smith (front), women's track and field star, said she's glad about the new NCAA ruling to give seniors another chance to perform. Photos courtesy of AU Athletics

When the pandemic caused campus to be closed in March, the full semester calendar wasn’t even midway through. One of the resulting losses was to the spring sport athletes (specifically seniors), who had to forego their last season at the collegiate level. However, in response to this, the NCAA council voted in favor of a proposal, granting all seniors playing within the NCAA another year of eligibility to compete alongside their peers.

That means all Adelphi spring teams—baseball, softball, track and field, lacrosse, golf and tennis—will be given the opportunity to keep their seniors, while also adding the new first-year recruits to the team, without roster limits. With this new rule in place for next season, spring sport seniors can be referred as “auxiliary athletes” due to the fact that they’ve competed for four years athletically. However, they’re granted another season due to their fourth year being cut short. The NCAA ruling also can help boost team morale because senior players are coming back, and they can provide leadership for the new incoming first-year athletes.

Daniel P. McCabe, Adelphi’s athletics director, was pleased with the proposition. “Granting the spring sport athletes another year of eligibility to be pursued at a school or at another institution was the right choice,” he said. “We all had sympathy for the situation in which those student athletes were put. We’re glad that the students, especially the seniors, have another chance to take the field.”

The ruling specifically allows schools to self-apply waivers in order to give an additional season of competition, with an extension of eligibility for spring sport athletes. Usually, NCAA athletes have four seasons of competition that must be completed in a five-year window. Which means, if you’re a student athlete, the NCAA gives you five years to compete athletically for four years. The fifth year is added as a redshirt year and is usually used when a player gets hurt or injured. That way, they can sacrifice a year to rehab while still being able to compete for four years athletically (even if they graduate).

“I think it's great that the NCAA is giving an extra year of eligibility to their athletes,” said Gordon Purdie, Jr., a graduate student and men’s lacrosse team player. “For someone like me with a second year of grad school to complete, it’s going to be great to be able to play an extra year.”

Senior Kelli Smith, women’s track and field star, is also grateful for the new rule.

“I am so glad the NCAA gave all the seniors another chance to perform,” she said. “I was so sorry to think that my senior teammates didn’t get the chance after their years of hard work and training. When you work on a goal for years, to think you never get an opportunity to showcase your skill is devastating to athletes, especially in track and cross country when your sport is year-round.”

Senior baseball outfielder Lawrence Cicileo (center) said he only got a chance to

play nine out of nearly 50 games before the season ended due to the pandemic.

Senior baseball outfielder Lawrence Cicileo agrees.

“The NCAA made the correct decision by granting another year of eligibility for seniors. It would’ve been very disappointing to have my last year of eligibility taken away after playing just nine out of nearly 50 games. It’s a sad and complicated situation because not every senior will be coming back, even after the granted year. I feel bad for those who won’t return to complete their final season, but I already planned to go for my masters anyway.”

In addition to allowing seniors to continue to play, the NCAA council is adjusting financial aid rules for institutions, which means expanding rosters in order to ensure teams have space for additional scholarship athletes without kicking them or pushing away other athletes or incoming recruits. Returning athletes, specifically seniors, will not count against roster limits. This allows the incoming recruits to not be in jeopardy of losing their scholarship to the program. Lastly, this statement urged the NCAA to allow the eligibility to address "immediate support for housing and food" for athletes who plan to live on campus.

As these athletes play the waiting game, only time will tell which of these “auxiliary athletes” takes advantage of the opportunity.

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