NCAA grants spring athletes opportunity for another year of eligibility

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Monday’s vote by the NCAA to allow schools to decide whether to grant spring sport athletes an additional year of eligibility left some TCU athletes with hope but winter athletes disappointed.

While the monetary value of current senior scholarships could vary between seasons, the NCAA adjusted financial aid rules to allow teams to carry more scholarship athletes to make space for incoming recruits and athletes who decide to stay, according to a press release from the NCAA. 

“The Council’s decision gives individual schools the flexibility to make decisions at a campus level,” M. Grace Calhoun, the athletics director at the University of Pennsylvania, said in a statement. “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.”

“There was no perfect choice in this decision, however, I believe the Council did the right thing for the most important group of people in this equation:  the current student athletes,” TCU baseball head coach Jim Schlossnagle said in a statement. “Now, it’s our job as coaches and athletic administrators to make it all work…that process is going to be challenging and, for some, there are going to have to be adjustments made for the future.”

Senior TCU baseball players took to Twitter to plead the NCAA for another chance to compete for a championship when they learned that their season would be cut short due to the uncertainty of the coronavirus spread.

“That dream was understandably taken from us this year due to the safety of our nation,” senior left-handed pitcher Haylen Green said in a tweet.  “What I pray is that you give me, and seniors like me across the nation another year to chase that dream, one more chance to hold that trophy with tears of joy in our eyes and smiles across our faces that says all our hard work has finally paid off.” 

Fellow seniors pitcher Charles King and third baseman Conner Shepherd also expressed their desire for one more year on social media. 

“I believe baseball tells you when it’s time to hang up the cleats and move on with your life,” Shepherd said. “However, a virus was not the way that we envisioned our seasons and possible careers coming to an end.”

Once the NCAA made the announcement Monday evening, TCU athletes were quick to express their gratitude on the decision. 

“Thank you for not taking the easy way out and showing that not all things are economically driven,” redshirt senior baseball player Hunter Wolfe said. 

The NCAA also increased the baseball roster limit due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

However, the decision made didn’t include an extra year for winter athletes whose seasons were cut short due to the uncertain spread of the virus.

TCU women’s basketball team entered the postseason with a 22-7 record and was preparing for a run in the NCAA Tournament but now will not get the chance to compete together as a team again.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed by the news we got today about not getting our year back,” said senior Kianna Ray in an Instagram post.

This was the second set of disappointing news that head coach Raegan Pebley had to share with her athletes in the last few weeks — first, the season was cut short and now they would not get another chance to compete together.

“I’ve shared news that has broken my players’ hearts one too many times in the last few weeks,” Pebley said in a tweet. 

TCU has yet to announce how they will go about financial aid for current senior athletes who may choose to return for an additional season.