Questions remain as decision looms on eligibility of spring NCAA Athletes

Questions remain as decision looms on eligibility of spring NCAA Athletes
SFA Baseball field (Source: KTRE Sports)

NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - In a week, NCAA Division I athletes could find out about waivers for eligibility following their seasons being canceled due to COVID-19.

Most spring sports had started while some where still getting ready for competition. The biggest concern is making sure seniors will not lose their final year of eligibility because of something beyond their control. The NCAA has already voted to allow waivers for athletes at the DII and DIII level.

On March 30 the DI committee plans to vote. While giving someone eligibility back is nice it has a trickle down effect. The biggest is what happens to incoming freshman that signed letters of intent. Schools only have so many scholarships and sports on their rosters.

Seniors will have to decide do they come back for one more year or leave and enter the workforce with careers that some have already set up with employers. There are so many questions that have to be answered and coaches do not have the answers all the time.

“We are going to have guys wondering about the [MLB] draft,” SFA baseball coach Johnny Cardenas said. “We are going to have guys concerned about next year’s team. We are going to have redshirts that want to know if they will have a chance to make the team next year. We will have recruits that we have signed that want to know their place right now. There are a lot of questions that we have to have answered and none of them are easy.”

It is not just spring sports affected. Fall and winter sports are also seeing issues. SFA football got an early start to their spring practices and only missed out on a couple of practices and their annual spring game. The NCAA has put a stop for now on in person recruiting and on-campus visits. Schools will have to get creative with offering virtual tours and video-phone calls.

“it is a lot different now,” SFA football coach Colby Carthel said. “We will put those to use and get the word out. We have the players identified we are recruiting so we will stay on the phone more with them now.”

SFA basketball is in good shape with just losing three seniors. Replacing them will be tough but with the majority of the team coming back the staff is more concerned on getting filers out on the high school underclassman and getting a jump on film for future recruiting classes. The time off the road could help SFA in the scheduling department. SFA has always ran into trouble with getting a non-conference schedule due to their success. So far, two games are locked down with several more pending. Coach Kyle Keller is hoping to fill up six more dates to add to his twenty game conference schedule.

“I think having the moratorium on recruiting, everyone is going to be scheduling right now," Keller said. “No one can go on the road so i think we are going to get some stuff done. Everyone will be around the office and say, ‘Oh we can’t go out recruiting so lets work on the schedule.’”

There is a lot of unknown and athletes that would normally be playing games are left with free time and that can be hard. SFA coaches and staff are now looking at how to help them adjust.

“It starts here at the top with Athletic Director Ryan Ivey and works it’s way down,” SFA softball coach Nicole Dickson said. “We are looking out for the student athletes mental health and showing the kids we are there to take care of them when things get hard and right now things are hard.”

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