The USC Trojans winter student-athletes got a big boost this past week, not just because they were allowed back in the practice facilities, but because the NCAA Division I Council voted to allow a free year of eligibility for their 2020-21 seasons.
The spring and fall student-athletes had the same waiver ruled in their favor this year, granting them the freedom to play or not to play if their teams were in action, without fear of losing a year of eligibility. Now the winter sports have that same option, even if we are multiple months away from the biggest spikes of the coronavirus.
The Council also voted to allow all football teams to be eligible for bowl games where previously you had to win at least 50% of your games to qualify.
“We felt it was important to make this decision now so student-athletes had the peace of mind to go into this season and compete,” Council Chair Grace Calhoun told ESPN on Wednesday. “They know they can regain that eligibility and have their clock automatically extended, so they’re not taking that chance on the front end if they choose to compete.”
The new ruling came when the Council also apparently pushed forward with two new documents on their docket, two that they hope to get rulings on as soon as possible and two that would change college athletics for good. One of those is a ruling on the Name, Image and Likeness that should go into effect in 2021 where college student-athletes can make money off their names, images and likeness moving forward. And the other was a ruling on a potential one-time transfer rule that would allow all NCAA sports to have their athletes transfer without having to sit out a year.
Those rulings are coming down soon, apparently, but the biggest ruling was for the winter sport student-athletes as they’re now free of that burden and can focus on classes and athletics ahead of this 2020-21 season.