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Council recommends protections, adopts emergency legislation

Recruiting dead period extended

The Division I Council recommended the Division I Board of Directors adopt some minimum protections for student-athletes whose sport seasons are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and will finalize recommendations before Aug. 21. The Council met virtually Wednesday.

Members indicated the recommendations decided Wednesday are the minimum and members may decide to recommend additional protections for student-athletes at the Aug. 19 Council meeting.

Last week, the NCAA Board of Governors required each division to adjust rules to support student-athletes whose seasons were impacted by COVID-19, similar to decisions that were made for spring sport student-athletes. The original deadline was Aug. 14, but membership feedback prompted the executive committee of the Board of Governors to extend that deadline until Aug. 21 to allow for additional conversations and input from stakeholders, including student-athletes. 

The Council recommended the board provide fall sport student-athletes who compete and then opt out of future participation or have a season cut short due to COVID-19: (1) an extension of their five-year period of eligibility; and (2) an additional season of competition if they participate in 50% or less of the maximum number of competitions allowed in each sport by Division I rules.

Members will further discuss additional Board of Governors requirements, including a prohibition on canceling, reducing or not renewing athletics aid for student-athletes who opt out of participation due to COVID-19 and required medical coverage for COVID-19 if a student contracts the virus through sports participation. Members also will discuss financial aid limits for fall sports. Although that topic was not part of the board’s mandate, some Council members think providing schools some flexibility in this area is important.

“In this time of uncertainty, the Council members are working to create additional flexibility for college athletes whose seasons have been negatively impacted by the pandemic,” said Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Pennsylvania. “Every day things are changing in college sport, and we want to be as responsive as possible, with the best information, to help student-athletes and their families make important decisions for their future. The Council worked hard today and will seek membership input before we make final recommendations to the board next week.”

The board will meet Aug. 21 to review Council recommendations regarding student-athlete well-being protections and the future of fall championships.

Emergency legislation

Additionally, the Council adopted emergency legislation effective immediately and in full compliance with an injunction issued by a U.S. District court, which addresses the following items, many already allowed by Division I rules:

  • Computers, science equipment, musical instruments and other tangible items not included in the cost-of-attendance calculation but related to the pursuit of academic studies.
  • Post-eligibility scholarships to complete undergraduate or graduate degrees at any school.
  • Scholarships to attend vocational school.
  • Tutoring.
  • Expenses related to studying abroad that are not included in the cost-of-attendance calculation.
  • Paid, post-eligibility internships.

The NCAA, schools and conferences also may provide an academic or graduation award or incentive that has a value up to the maximum value of awards an individual student-athlete could receive in an academic year in participation, championship or special achievement awards (combined).

The injunction is effective immediately. It applies to men’s and women’s basketball and Football Bowl Subdivision student-athletes. The limit on academic incentive payments mirrors the limit allowed by the injunction, which did not set a specific dollar figure. The injunction permits these benefits but does not require schools to offer them. The injunction also allows a conference to set its own limit if it chooses to do so.

The NCAA intends to appeal the Alston/grant-in-aid antitrust matter to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Recruiting dead period

Members also extended the temporary recruiting dead period for all sports through Sept. 30, 2020. 

The dead period has been in place since March and is a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Council took feedback from coaching associations in making its decision, and most coaching groups recommended the extension through at least Sept. 30. The full Council will consider the dead period again in September.

No in-person recruiting or evaluations can occur in the dead period.