NCAA Division-III Management Council recommends an extra year of eligibility for student-athletes


NCAA Division III Logo

Kyle Kelly, Sports Editor

John Carroll University athletes could be getting an extra year of eligibility. 

Last Wednesday, the Management Council recommended to the President’s Council of Division III a request that would allow student-athletes to “compete up to the established dates of competition/contest maximums without being charged a season of intercollegiate participation for this academic year.”

The blanket waiver request will be reviewed by the President’s Council during a video conference today, according to the NCAA. The NCAA also cited the COVID-19 pandemic, saying, “Uncertainty regarding the extent of their athletics participation and the related eligibility repercussions contribute to a growing list of concerns for student-athletes.”

“I want to commend the council members for their thorough consideration of the waiver request,” said Heather Benning, chair of the Management Council and executive director of the Midwest Conference, in a statement by the NCAA. “Several perspectives were brought to the table, and, ultimately, I believe the consensus point for the council is recognition of the undue stress and mental health impact the uncertainty of college sports amidst a global pandemic has placed on student-athletes. Providing this one-year waiver will provide definitive guidance for DIII student-athletes making academic and athletic decisions for the winter and spring terms.”

For the Ohio Athletic Conference, this impacts the winter sports teams slightly differently than it would football, for example. Football is scheduled to not exceed 50% of its season in the OAC, so the players do not need a waiver for an extra year of eligibility. 

As it stands for the basketball teams, they are currently scheduled to play the entire season, which would eliminate a year of eligibility for the athletes. Basketball is likely going to shorten its season anyway, but if it didn’t, it would be necessary for the players to have the extra year of eligibility if they play more than 50% of their season.

With football, their season could be extended if this waiver passes. Although it is unlikely that the OAC would change its plans, the conference would have the option to do so because players could play more than half of the season without losing a year of eligibility.

John Carroll football player Isaac Kozak, who is considered an academic senior but a junior on the field, sees value in the extra year of eligibility for the players.

“I haven’t played football in two years, so I would love the option to play a full season,” said Kozak who tore his ACL in the spring of 2019. “If COVID wouldn’t have happened, I probably just would’ve played this year (2020 fall season) and would have been done. Since we didn’t get to play this year, I want to come back and play in the fall of 2021. Five games in the spring aren’t enough for me.”

Kozak estimated that more than half of the senior class will return for a fifth season. The waiver request would allow players to play a full season in the spring and another full season in the fall of 2021.

Overall, the waiver could change the outlook for many athletes’ careers at John Carroll. Furthermore, it could result in the OAC changing its decision to extend the fall sports seasons. The decision lies in the hands of the President’s Council, which could potentially be made today.