After having their seasons drastically cut short and canceled amid the coronavirus outbreak, the NCAA has granted spring sport athletes to have an additional year of eligibility. NCAA Division I sports at Liberty affected by this include baseball, golf, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s outdoor track & field, women’s lacrosse and softball.
“In terms of principle, I’m in agreement with the NCAA’s decision to grant the blanket waiver for the 5th year spring sport student-athletes so they can come back next year in light of the fact their seasons were cut dramatically short,” Liberty athletic director Ian McCaw said. “That was an honorable thing to do.”
The NCAA also extended the student-athletes’ period of eligibility and adjusted scholarship rules to allow teams to have more players on rosters, with incoming freshman classes and seniors who decide to stay.
“We’ve been gathering information from our head coaches of the spring sports regarding the intent of this year’s seniors to return next year,” said McCaw. “At this point, it looks like about one-half of them would like to come back. Some of them have made plans, have jobs, are getting married, and doing other things, but about half of them do have a desire to come back.”
This comes at a cost for the universities as they will have to foot the bill for the extra scholarships at a time when athletic programs are seeing their revenues radically reduced. However, Liberty is in a much better financial condition than the average college.
“That’s something we’ve got to work with University Administration on now that we have a rough sense of how many are going to return,” McCaw said of the financial burden this will entail. “We think it’s going to be somewhere in the range of $350-400,000. That’s something that we will be studying here in the next couple of weeks.”
“We’re right now looking at our financial aid limits and how we can work that in, but it’s certainly something that we certainly desire, if at all possible, have those seniors return to the University and be a part of the program next year.”