On Monday, the NCAA announced that it will allow schools to grant student-athletes an additional year of eligibility for spring sports but not for winter sports. "We are supportive of the NCAA Division I Council decision of giving our spring sport student-athletes the option for another year of athletic eligibility". Due to the financial uncertainty of many schools, the decision allows universities to determine the amount of scholarship aide given to returning seniors.
The decision eases the concerns of some college coaches about having an excess of scholarship players due to their commitments with incoming freshmen.
The NCAA did not include winter sports in the decision by a council vote as well, given that all or much of their seasons were finished by the NCAA decision to cancel championships. This only applies to athletes who would have been true seniors or fifth-year seniors.
The decision by the NCAA Division I Council, made up of administrators from all 32 Division I athletic conferences, is largely considered a victory for spring sports but could also also prove to be somewhat of a head-scratcher for the men and women coaching those teams, as well as their athletic directors and financial teams.
The decision also adjusts financial aid rules to allow teams to carry more members on scholarship to account for incoming recruits and student-athletes who had been in their a year ago of eligibility who decide to stay.
Sports included in the eligibility extension are baseball, softball, tennis, golf and track and field.
Good news, bad news from the NCAA.
"The Board of Governors encouraged conferences and schools to take action in the best interest of the student-athletes and their communities, and now schools have the opportunity to do that". It will be up to each individual Division I school - of which there are 347 nationwide, 10 in Alabama - how they choose to pay for the additional scholarship spots.
Seniors will not be the only players affected by Monday's decision.
Those spring athletes became a symbol for a larger discussion: What role do the actual athletes play in what could be a burgeoning financial crisis for college athletics? According to a March 22 report by USA TODAY, the cost for Power Five public schools could be between $500,000 to $900,000.
Former Kaplan standout Abby Trahan was red-shirting at NC State this season, a team with 19-wins already.
"For us, the overwhelming number of those students were slated to graduate in May, so it will be interesting to see how many actually want to come back", Wicker said. "Because coaches have been really fighting for their seniors because they've worked so hard". "The other piece is what would they come and do if they're all graduating?"