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NCAA to vote “today or tomorrow” on free year of eligibility for winter athletes

The NCAA Division I Council is expected to vote on granting winter sport student-athletes an additional year of eligibility either today or tomorrow.

According to college basketball insider Jeff Goodman, the DI Council will meet today to discuss and vote on numerous issues, including the possibility of an additional year of eligibility. If they don’t get around to the eligibility topic today, the vote is expected to come tomorrow.

“Told there is a chance that D-1 Council might not get to the vote on granting winter sports an additional year of eligibility today, and it could occur tomorrow instead,” Goodman reported. “Just depends on how quickly they move through other items today.”

In a follow-up video response, Goodman dove a little deeper on the issue, noting that the “precedent has already been set” and it would be wise for the NCAA to follow in its own footsteps after granting an additional year of eligibility for spring and fall athletes.

“The precedent has already been set, the NCAA did it for spring sports back in March, and then for the fall sports in August,” he said. “Now, the Division I Council will vote either today or tomorrow on whether winter athletes will also get an additional season of competition.”

Should the vote pass and winter athletes are granted 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.

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 and does approve individual waiver requests on a regular basis – we just saw them do so with Joey Gatewood –  this rule would force the league’s hand regardless. With a blanket waiver for a free year, 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.

The NCAA has to make the first move by voting for the additional year, but if and when they do over the next 48 hours, one would think an announcement on Sarr could soon follow.

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

4 Comments for NCAA to vote “today or tomorrow” on free year of eligibility for winter athletes

  1. IrishCat
    1:15 pm October 13, 2020 Permalink

    Free Olivier

  2. RackEmWillie
    1:25 pm October 13, 2020 Permalink

    You would think that if they voted to not grant a “free year” that there would potentially be some law suits from the winter sport athletes, since they would be the only group who didn’t. And at this point in time, you could maybe say with the elimination of March Madness, they’ve been the most impacted group.

    Interesting times.

    • SuperTroy18
      2:40 pm October 13, 2020 Permalink

      Good point. The only championships to have not taken place. Glaring omission with the NBA and MLB having made it happen, but not NCAA. Granted, the timing could not have been worse for it; but it’s still crazy/unfortunate that they’re the only ones to not have even gotten a chance.

    • Megan
      4:33 pm October 13, 2020 Permalink

      Lawsuits? No. I don’t know why so many people think lawsuits, or the threat of lawsuits, is an effective response. Learned behavior from our president? Matt could chime in here, but I don’t think such a suit could survive a motion to dismiss.

      What would be the basis of such a claim? Your observation that winter athletes would be the only group who didn’t receive an extra year suggests discrimination. Discrimination based on … playing winter sports? That’s not one of the nine protected classes under federal law. Equal protection? The NCAA isn’t a government organization. The Fourteenth Amendment doesn’t apply. It’s a private club that makes its own rules. And let’s not forget that when we say the NCAA, we mean all the member institutions, including Kentucky. If the NCAA votes not to grant an extra year of eligibility, that’s Kentucky and Kansas and North Carolina and Duke and Montana State University-Bozeman collectively deciding winter sports will not receive an extra year of eligibility.

      And maybe for a good reason. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We like to think the NCAA is always out to get us, but let’s see what they do. If they don’t give an extra year, let’s see what reason they give and whether it makes sense. If there’s some reasonable basis for their action, I don’t see how we can complain. The point is, the issue isn’t ripe for complaining, not that it’s ever stopped us before. Maybe they grant an extra year, and all the anxiety (over Sarr, let’s be honest) was for nothing.