The NCAA D1 Council voted in favor of an extra year of eligibility for all spring-sport athletes. Several Rice athletes will get back a season of eligibility.
The biggest story surrounding the future of Rice baseball centered on what would become of the current squad. Suspended roughly a quarter of the way into the 2020 season, the Owls awaited the verdict of the NCAA D1 Council.
Proposals had been thrown around over the last several weeks. The big question was what changes, if any, would be made to ensure the “appropriate” level of relief was granted to spring sport athletes. Now it’s official. The NCAA D1 Council has voted to award an extra year of eligibility to all spring-sport athletes.
Source tells @TheAthleticCFB that the NCAA Division I Council has approved blanket waiver for all spring-sport athletes to get an extra year of eligibility. Schools will be able to offer less (or zero) aid or match what they provided this year. Up to each school for each athlete.
— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) March 30, 2020
Reports cite a letter written by student-athletes to the NCAA as a contributing factor toward the positive decision.
At South Main, this ruling will presumably have a direct impact on Rice Baseball, Tennis, Golf, Swimming and Track and Field. How it will play out in the coming weeks is less certain.
A key piece in the ruling was the financial burden of these added scholarships. Per a report by The Athletic, schools will have the ability to decide on the level of financial commitment on a per athlete basis. No decision has been reached on how that ruling will be applied at Rice.
At the extreme, that could play out as partial or no scholarship support to players who currently hold full scholarships. The NCAA says the Student Assitance Fund may be used to cover the cost of these scholarships.
Spring sports operate under much different scholarship requirements than their fall counterparts. The one-athlete to one-scholarship ratio is much less cut and dry in the spring compared to sports like football and basketball.
More details like how these players will be counted regarding roster limitations will be forthcoming. Today, the big decision was made. No Rice baseball player will lose their season. It’s possible the Owls still lose players like Trei Cruz to the draft, but those who want to return will have a spot. The NCAA did the right thing. Read the full release here.