This is an insanely tough time for every single person in the world right now. Everyone is affected, and sports in particular have been completely wiped from daily life. The NCAA continually seems to have their hands full with decisions and navigating, especially with the player image and likeness battles finding their way onto the legislative floor in states instead of just sound bytes and online articles. However, the new main priority is figuring out what college sports will look like once the dust settles, and normal life tries to resume. If there is one thing that’s true about the NCAA, it’s probably that they will not do the obvious thing that makes the most sense. Still, here are the biggest questions on the horizon:
Springs sports will get another year.
The NCAA is already one for one in terms of getting it right. Since winter sports barely got started, giving the athletes an extra year if they want it is the right move. There are some complications on that, which will be circled back to at the end, but this decision is putting the athletes first, and that’s what matters.
Will winter sports be granted an extra year of eligibility?
This question has its share of supporters but seems like a long-shot in many ways. The regular seasons concluded, but most conference championships and of course the big stage post-season tournaments didn’t happen, leaving many seniors feeling slighted. Plus, it was the big money-maker games that are now lost, not to mention the biggest exposure of men’s and women’s basketball on a national level. It’s hard to think of a way to resolve this, and for those who won’t be going to the next level, it’s an unfitting end to their athletic careers.
What to do about the lost NCAA tourney revenue?
Matt Brown had a post on Banner Society concerning this last week. Smaller schools in D1 and definitely lower divisions have a pretty fixed budget, and they depend on revenue sharing from something like the NCAA tournament. The payout was much smaller this year, and for group of five schools, will they be able to keep their athletic departments afloat? This question will be especially troublesome if the football season is lost. More on that in a bit.
How to make up spring practices for teams?
Air Force was the only Mountain West school to complete spring practices and one of only a handful of programs across the nation. Some others got a few practices in, and others never even got started. In one way, the answer is straightforward: allow those who didn’t complete spring ball the exact number of practices they have missed out on. The problem is when things start to resume. If it’s May, that’s probably fine. June and it’s in the middle of recruiting camps, which would make it a bit more complicated. July and it may as well be fall camp time. If it gets that late, perhaps just letting those teams add spring practices onto fall camp and start a week or two early. But if things don’t resume until August or later, those practices may never be made up. Speaking of...
Will fall sports have to have an adjusted season?
This is the question no one really wants to think of, but the NCAA better be. It would make sense for them to have a few plans for the fall. Moving the start of the season back a month, shortening the season to just conference games, something, anything to minimize the damage if it comes to it. Also, depending on how things go, the NCAA should be thinking about what games may look like without fans.
How to balance scholarship numbers for sports that do give players extra years of eligibility?
This is potentially the most interesting question. As stated above, the NCAA made the right move by allowing the extra year of eligibility for spring sports, but what will that look like in practicality? For instance, if every senior returned next season for their spring sport (except those going pro), how would that impact the incoming class? College sports are meant to be constantly flowing, and recruiting can’t stop for a year without having a huge impact on players in one class or another, and probably all the classes in between.
Will the NCAA allow exceptions on scholarships to allow what should have been the outgoing class to stay while also allowing the incoming class to still come in? Is it in the best interests of the student-athletes to allow teams to have bigger rosters for the next year or two? Will it just set off a chain reaction of transfers if players aren’t playing on these bloated teams?
There probably won’t be a perfect solution here, but they are things that should be discussed and try to identify the best possible solution.
The answers to all of these topics are anything but clear. However the questions are certainly apparent.