A week ago, it was revealed the University of Wisconsin was urging the seniors from its spring sports programs to move on, and that they were not welcome to return for a repeat of their canceled senior seasons despite an NCAA ruling allowing those seniors an opportunity to compete in 2021.
The University of Colorado is taking the opposite track. If 2020 seniors want to return for their final season of eligibility in 2021, they will be back in uniform for the Buffaloes.
CU athletic director Rick George held the latest of his series of media conference calls on Thursday, and among the topics discussed was the retention of a year of eligibility for all spring sport student athletes whose seasons were wiped out by the closing of campuses across the nation to the coronavirus pandemic. George said that all 2020 seniors that want to compete in 2021 are welcome to return.
“We made the decision that we’re going to support our spring sport student athletes that decide to come back,” George said. “Our coaches are in the process of having those discussions with their student athletes. I made the decision a couple days ago in consultation with our chancellor. We will support our spring sport graduating senior student athletes.”
While the extra year of eligibility is extended to all student athletes on spring sport rosters, it is most pertinent for seniors who faced the possibility of their careers ending due to a forced hiatus on the sideline. George noted that not all of the seniors from CU’s spring sports programs — men’s and women’s track, men’s and women’s golf, women’s lacrosse and women’s tennis — will necessarily alter their post-graduation plans in order to return.
Next year, the 2020 seniors will not count against any program’s ceilings for financial aid and roster limits. Given spring sport athletes at CU generally work on partial scholarships spread throughout the rosters, the more creative juggling could occur in 2022, when the waiver for those roster and scholarship limits expires.
“There’s some seniors that have already made plans,” George said. “They’ve got jobs already, and that’s why it was important for us on the council level to make that decision when we made that decision, because we thought it was important that we (approve) this legislation so we could give some guidance to our graduating seniors. I talked to our coaches and informed them of my decision on Monday. They’re having conversations with those student athletes right now.
“I’m sure a number of those student athletes will want to come back, and we want them to come back. I think it’s the right thing for us to do. This year they’re not going to be included in their financial aid limitations. So to me this is an easy year. The issues moving forward with the other student athletes potentially having another year, how they manage that with their roster sizes and their financial aid limitations, that will be where it will be a little more challenging.”
On Thursday, the NCAA increased the allowable hours for coaching staffs to be in contact with their respective athletes from four hours a week to eight hours a week. The contact expansion counts for all sports. The eight hours of virtual connections includes sessions like film study and meetings, and it will go on hiatus for two weeks in May for finals.
“I think that’s going to be really good for our coaches to have four more hours of interaction with their student athletes,” George said. “I’m really glad we’ve come to that decision.”
George also serves on the NCAA committee exploring the name and likeness issue, and he offered an update saying the committee will meet next week while honing in on recommendations to present to the NCAA board of governors in late April…There are not many student athletes still on CU’s closed campus, but for those who are George said twice last week the university supplied a “snack shack” for grab-and-go nutritional food and supplements.