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NCAA grants extra year of eligibility to spring athletes, denies it to winter ones

The National Collegiate Athletic Association will allow schools to extend an extra year of eligibility to spring sport athletes whose seasons were cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Division I Council Coordination Committee also announced Monday night that for the 2021 spring season, it would increase the baseball roster limit and allow all teams to carry more members on scholarship. 

This was the first relief policy announced for student-athletes after the Ivy League’s March 11 suspension of spring athletic events and the NCAA’s March 12 decision to cancel all winter and spring championships. But the Council stopped short of allowing schools to grant extra eligibility to winter athletes who had their postseasons cut short. 

A slew of Princeton winter athletes — including the women’s basketball team, the women’s hockey team, and six wrestlers — had qualified for NCAA postseason tournaments. To some of the athletes, the decision was expected. 

“Although having our season cancelled abruptly was heartbreaking, I understand the decision,” wrote junior Rachel McQuigge in a statement to the ‘Prince’. “Obviously I wish my seniors could have another chance at playing college hockey and the opportunity to finish what they started, but for the sake of fairness, I’m not surprised.” 

But to other athletes — and their coaches — the NCAA’s move came at once as a blow and a shock. 

“Every time I think of the possibility of the NCAA saying ‘Sorry, tough luck,’” said senior wrestling captain Matthew Kolodzik to NJ.com last week, “I can’t imagine them doing it to the seniors who qualified. One week left in their wrestling career and season, to throw it out would be heart-breaking not just for myself. They worked their entire season to get to this tournament.”

“I was really praying that the NCAA would just help these kids out,” said head wrestling coach Chris Ayres. “And unfortunately, this is what happened. It just sucks.”

This is a developing story. It will be updated as more information becomes available. 

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