Earlier this week, the NCAA’s Division I Council approved a measure allowing spring sport athletes to retain the season of eligibility lost this year when the entire spring slate was eliminated due to the nationwide fears of the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19.
What that will mean at the University of Colorado, and the result of difficult decisions that need to be made, remains up in the air.
During his conference call on Wednesday updating reporters on that state of CU Buffs athletics, athletic director Rick George said discussions have begun as to how the ruling will impact CU. The decision allows an extra year of eligibility for all spring sport student-athletes, but 2020 seniors could be subject to reduced scholarship and aid packages.
“There will be a lot of discussions I’m sure among coaches and student-athletes,” George said. “As you look forward, just as a point of clarification, in its first year in ’20-21, if seniors decide to come back and coaches are all in agreement on what’s going to happen moving forward, that aid will not be counted in their financial aid limitations. We can provide scholarships or financial aid to the student-athletes above the financial aid limits currently. That’s for one year.
“Starting in ‘21-22, the coaches will have to manage their financial aid limitations and squad-size limitations. So we’re really talking one year. It’s about the seniors and those that come back. It just came down Monday evening, so I’m sure our coaches and student-athletes are having conversations.”
George noted that one silver lining of the spring hiatus is that the Buffs’ lineup of spring sports — men’s and women’s track, women’s tennis, women’s lacrosse, and men’s and women’s golf — is not a revenue-generator. Additionally, it is unlikely every 2020 senior in those sports will take advantage of the extra year, but George hopes to get those roster situations settled in the near future.
“We want to move expeditiously on this,” George said. “As challenging as that may be, we know that seniors have to make plans. That’s why it’s important for us, especially for the seniors. We wanted to make sure that there was some clarity for them that they could make decisions on their futures having everything on the table. We’ll move fairly quickly in that regard. I don’t want to put a timetable on it, but we need to move quickly because we owe it to our seniors that are making plans for the future.”
George said discussions have occurred with men’s basketball coach Tad Boyle regarding the fate of the NCAA Tournament bonus included in Boyle’s contract, yet no decision has been made as to whether Boyle will receive the $105,000 payment. Despite a season-ending five-game losing streak, the Buffs still were squarely in the NCAA tourney picture when it was canceled for the first time in college basketball history.
“We’ve had that conversation and we’re still having that conversation,” George said. “Tad and I have had a lot of conversations not just about that, but about the future and the things that have gone on in his program. We’ll figure out what that looks like in the next few days. There’s been a lot of other important work we’ve been doing.”
Boyle earned $110,000 in bonuses for the Buffs’ regular season victory total, netting $30,000 apiece for the team’s 15th, 19th, and 21st wins of the season and another $20,000 for win No. 17. Terms of the contract state Boyle’s incentive bonuses must be paid within 30 days of the completion of the season, which would be April 10.
George said that, to his knowledge, all of CU’s student-athletes remain healthy and virus-free. “Most of our student-athletes have been away for, now, about three weeks,” George said. “We’ve been learning remotely and no contact face-to-face.”…On Wednesday, the NCAA announced it was extending the virus-spurred moratorium on recruiting through May 31. Previously, the ban on coach travel and on-campus visits had been April 15.