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BREAKING: NCAA officially grants winter athletes additional year of eligibility

Division I student-athletes competing in winter sports during 2020-21 will officially receive an additional year of eligibility and an additional year in which to complete it.

The NCAA Division I Council officially voted to confirm the news today.

“The pandemic will continue to impact winter sport seasons in ways we can’t predict. Council members opted to provide for winter sport student-athletes the same flexibility given spring and fall sports previously,” said Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Pennsylvania. “The actions today ensure the continuation of local decision-making in the best interest of each institution and its student-athletes.”

The same flexibility was provided to student-athletes after the spring season was canceled in 2020 and the fall season was seriously impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Council also agreed to grant a blanket waiver for 2020-21 to allow conferences to earn an automatic bid in fall championships if a minimum of three member schools participated in conference competition in that sport. The membership will collaboratively address automatic qualifications and at-large allocations should there be a change to field sizes in winter and spring sports, except for men’s and women’s basketball.

The Competition Oversight Committee previously had approved flexibility for championships selection:

  • Teams in winter sports can participate in as few as 50% of the required minimum contests/dates of competition and still be considered for championships selection. Men’s and women’s basketball previously set their minimum contest number at 13. This reduction is consistent with what was provided for fall sports.
  • Teams in winter sports are not required to have an overall won-lost record of .500 or better, which is normally required for teams to be eligible for at-large championships selections. This also is consistent with what was provided for fall sports teams.

Beyond the official release by the NCAA, Stadium’s Brett McMurphy broke the news that the Division I Council also approved a proposal to allow one-time transfers in all sports without sitting out a season, with a vote coming in January for final approval.

Should the vote pass, as expected, the rule would go into effect starting Aug. 1, 2021.

As for what today’s rulings mean for UK Athletics, the biggest and most immediate news involves Kentucky center Olivier Sarr and his fight for immediate eligibility.

While the NCAA has approved Sarr’s waiver for immediate eligibility, SEC bylaw 14.1.15 states that student-athletes with less than two years of eligibility remaining must fulfill a residence requirement of one full academic year.

“A student-athlete who, upon enrollment at the certifying institution, has less than two years of eligibility remaining shall not be eligible for intercollegiate competition at a member institution until the student has fulfilled a residence requirement of one full academic year (two full semesters) at the certifying institution,” the official bylaw states.

With this blanket waiver now official, Sarr – by rule – has two more years of eligibility remaining at Kentucky, thus taking out the need for one full academic year of residence at the certifying institution. The SEC now has no reason not to clear the highly touted transfer out of Wake Forest.

Beyond Sarr, graduate transfer Davion Mintz will now have the opportunity to play two years at Kentucky if he so chooses. Rhode Island transfer Jacob Toppin, who originally planned on sitting out a year to develop his game and body before returning to the floor in 2021-22, will also be able to suit up and help the team if need be while maintaining his original timeline on campus. This is, of course, if the NCAA grants him a waiver for immediate eligibility.

As for the one-time transfer rule set to be voted on and approved in January, Kentucky’s recruiting efforts dramatically shift toward high-profile college stars looking for a change of scenery instead of solely relying on high school recruits to round of the 2021-22 roster and beyond.

Needless to say, significant news for the Kentucky basketball program.

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

16 Comments for BREAKING: NCAA officially grants winter athletes additional year of eligibility

  1. IrishCat
    6:33 pm October 14, 2020 Permalink

    Free Olivier!!!

  2. SuperTroy18
    6:48 pm October 14, 2020 Permalink

    This could set up a mega roster for the blue bloods next season. Major shifts coming for specific teams. Cats should be at the top of the heap when the dust clears. This is crazy!

  3. mashman 93
    6:57 pm October 14, 2020 Permalink

    Kentucky should jump up a bit in the preseason rankings now. GO BIG BLUE!!!!

  4. CoachCalFan
    7:15 pm October 14, 2020 Permalink

    In theory, Sarr has 2 years left with the news today on winter sports granted extra year eligibility. SEC has no choice no to free him!

    • Pensacola_Cat_Fan
      7:57 pm October 14, 2020 Permalink

      As if they were going to make ANY transfers sit this year – wasn’t going to happen.

  5. Pensacola_Cat_Fan
    7:43 pm October 14, 2020 Permalink

    This ruling won’t have any impact on UK sports or minimal impact at best.

    • Jack Pilgrim
      8:08 pm October 14, 2020 Permalink

      The article explains how it impacts three different players on Kentucky’s roster this year alone. Also explains that the transfer rule gives UK the ability to recruit the best players in college basketball moving forward, not relying on high school recruits and grad transfers.

    • Pensacola_Cat_Fan
      8:28 pm October 14, 2020 Permalink

      I’m not critiquing the article, I just don’t think we’ll have players stay longer than they would have normally. I also think Sarr would have been made eligible anyway (pretty much all transfers are this year). The one time transfer rule could be impactful but that’s not official yet correct? My comment is more for those that are jumping up and down thinking this will be a monumental thing for UK sports.

  6. l503423
    9:17 pm October 14, 2020 Permalink

    Eat it Bruce Pearl !

  7. peaches76
    9:41 pm October 14, 2020 Permalink

    NCAA continues to create total cluster ducks with some of their decisions

  8. TonyMontana
    10:40 pm October 14, 2020 Permalink

    This means Malik Monk, De’Aaron Fox & Bam Adebayo can return for their 5th year. Oh right, they didnt stay. Could you imagine though?!

    • CahillsCrossingNT
      6:18 am October 15, 2020 Permalink

      TonyMontana Even with those three and this year, Calipari still wouldn’t win a title.

  9. Hot Stuff Eddie Gilbert
    8:35 am October 15, 2020 Permalink

    Sarrr should sign something stating he will play at UK for 2 years. And if he doesn’t Kentucky should face some sort of punishment. Pretty simple.

    • KyCat
      8:42 am October 15, 2020 Permalink

      Nothing says the student has to use all of their eligibility, just that the player cannot have fewer than two years of eligibility if they are not a grad transfer. So why would or should Kentucky face any kind of punishment if Sarr only took advantage of one of the two years of eligibility he has? Do we face punishment when one and done players only choose to use 1 of their 4 years?

  10. KyCat
    8:39 am October 15, 2020 Permalink

    Technically, upon Sarr’s enrollment he only had one year of eligibility remaining, not the two years the NCAA granted him yesterday So the SEC could play hard ball and say when he enrolled is the date that they use since the bylaw stipulates that is when the rule is applied. I don’t think they will, but who knows what the SEC will do.