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DIII schools granted extra flexibility for spring sports in response to COVID-19 situation

Moves include additional eligibility, removal of sports sponsorship requirements, and assistance with travel, lodging and meals

After the NCAA announced the cancellation of all remaining winter and spring championships in response to the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, the Division III Administrative Committee approved measures giving schools additional flexibility when it comes to student-athletes, as well as participation and membership requirements.

Along with its decision to cancel the winter and spring championships, the NCAA Board of Governors last week directed all three divisions to enact legislative modifications and waivers to provide relief to student-athletes and schools impacted by COVID-19.

The Division III measures approved on Friday, March 13, include an additional semester and season of eligibility for all student-athletes participating in spring sports, the removal of a minimum threshold of sponsored spring sports, and the flexibility for schools to assist students with travel, lodging and meals as a result of campus displacement.

No actions were taken with regard to additional recruiting restrictions, as Division III does not have specific recruiting periods.

“While these measures won’t cover all circumstances, they were taken with the best interest of student-athletes in mind,” said Tori Murden McClure, president of Spalding University and chair of the Administrative Committee. “During these extraordinarily difficult times, conferences and institutions should not focus on the application of NCAA legislation, but rather the health and well-being of student-athletes.”

On eligibility, the committee approved a blanket waiver for all student-athletes participating in spring sports. The waiver will be in effect even if a school continues or restarts its spring season. In Division III, student-athletes have 10 semesters or 15 quarters to get in four seasons of participation. With this move by the committee, the 2020 spring semester will not count toward their 10 semesters or four seasons.

On sports sponsorship, the committee waived the requirement that Division III schools must sponsor a minimum number of sports each year, including at least one sport each season. Typically, if a school cancels all spring sports, it would not reach the minimum threshold, but with this action, there will be no repercussions if schools fail to meet that minimum based on the cancellation or suspension of spring sports.

On assisting student-athletes with travel, lodging and meals, the committee said that during these unprecedented times, institutions should apply flexibility in the best interest of their student-athletes with respect to provisions and extra benefits. The committee said specific questions, as needed, can be addressed by staff or sent through the governance structure.