Leading up to college football season, the NCAA announced it would allow student-athletes participating in fall sports to play or sit out a year without using a year of eligibility. In essence, due to the uncertain circumstances that come with playing sports during the Covid-19 pandemic, it is a free year for student-athletes to make the best decisions for themselves.
With that move being made for fall sports, could we see the same happen for winter sport athletes, and thus, college basketball players?
According to college basketball insider Jeff Goodman, discussions have already begun regarding the matter, with the men’s basketball oversight committee speaking today in preparation of a vote on Oct. 13-14.
Outside of the question of adding a year of eligibility, they also discussed scheduling issues regarding the total number of games this winter.
“Men’s basketball oversight committee [met] today,” Goodman reported. “Among the topics [discussed were] whether basketball players/winter sports should receive an additional season of competition [and] whether to change parameters of 27-game limit. Right now have to play in an MTE to get to 27.”
How did things go? Goodman is reporting that while there’s a consensus that “some sort of relief” is necessary, it might be too early to make the call on a full year of added eligibility.
“Told that the oversight committees do not appear to be quite ready to move on whether winter athletes should get an additional year,” Goodman reported. ‘“It’s understood they will get some sort of relief, it’s just a matter of when and to what extent,” said one source on the call.”
As for the other matter at hand, it appears coaches are in favor of a blanket 27-game schedule, while other school officials have their concerns.
“I was told that the majority of the coaches on the oversight committee’s call were in favor of going to a blanket 27-game schedule, but most others (commissioners and AD’s) were opposed to it and wanted to keep the MTE’s in the equation,” Goodman added.
Should the oversight committee move for an additional year of eligibility, this would not only give UK players one more possible year on campus, but also force the SEC’s hand to clear Olivier Sarr for the 2020-21 season.
Why? 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.
While the SEC can approve its own waiver, this rule would force the league’s hand regardless. With a blanket waiver, Sarr would – by rule – have two more years of eligibility remaining at Kentucky, thus taking out the need for one full academic year of residence at the certifying institution.
With the NCAA already signing off on Sarr, the Kentucky big man’s eligibility would then be confirmed for the 2020-21 season.
Should the vote take place next week, big news could follow for the UK basketball program.