Less than a day after announcing the cancellation of all collegiate winter and spring championships, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) released a statement on Friday, March 13, through Twitter regarding plans to give spring athletes an extra year of eligibility.
“Council leadership agreed that eligibility relief is appropriate for all Division I student-athletes who participated in spring sports,” the statement read. “Details of eligibility relief will be finalized at a later time. Additional issues with the NCAA rules must be addressed, and appropriate governance bodies will work through those in the coming days and weeks.”
The NCAA’s swift cancellation of all winter and spring championships was controversial, especially amongst senior athletes who had their final year of competition abruptly taken from them. Allison Wahrman, a senior thrower on the Iowa track and field team, started a petition to grant affected athletes an additional year of eligibility; as of March 14, the petition has over 200,000 signatures.
Amongst Stony Brook student-athletes, Women’s Lacrosse senior midfielder Ally Kennedy has already declared her intentions to return for a final season in 2021. The First-Team All-American was named the sixth-best player in 2020 men’s or women’s college lacrosse by Inside Lacrosse, and her 27 points and 22 goals on the year led the No. 5-ranked Stony Brook team — who played just five games to a 4-1 record before the cancellation of the rest of their season.
“If I get the extra year of eligibility, I’m 100% coming back,” Kennedy said in a press release. “That is something I’d want to do. I want to be able to write my own ending and end my lacrosse career the way I really want to.”
However, granting an extra year of eligibility does not make the decision-making process easier for every student-athlete, as noted by Kennedy’s teammate, senior defender Sydney Gagnon, who currently has a post-graduation career already planned.
“I think there are a lot of factors to consider,” Gagnon said. “I had a job lined up. I know other girls on my team had jobs lined up. Depending on what the NCAA comes out with and what happens, [that] will help me make my decision. But I think a lot of the seniors are just devastated. It’s hard to think about it right now. But I would do anything to play another game right now.”
Kennedy acknowledged that she is unsure whether or not the entire roster will be able to return in 2021.
“I don’t know who is going to come back next year,” Kennedy said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen next year. But it’s so much more than a game to me. It’s all the relationships I’ve built this year. Not seeing all of my best friends’ faces every day like I have for the past three months, it’s going to not sit well with me for a while. I’m just really sad.”