NAIA athletes granted extra year

Greg Mast

The NAIA’s Council of Presidents Executive Committee voted not to charge fall and winter student-athletes a season of competition for the 2020-21 academic year.

This decision was based on a survey of conferences and reflects the majority feedback. Of the 19 conferences that responded, 12 were in favor of removing the 50% rule, four were in favor of keeping the 50% rule, and three were divided in their position.

“Due to the constraints that COVID-19 has imposed on collegiate athletics, most of our conferences believed it was in the best interest of our fall and winter student-athletes to not charge a season of competition this year,” NAIA president and CEO Jim Carr said. “Many factors were taken into account, but the underlying consideration was relieving pressure on both student-athletes, as well as institutions, as they continue to navigate the fall and winter seasons.”

Several fall and winter programs have been shut down for weeks at a time because of the pandemic.

Ottawa University spent about a month on hiatus from mid-September to mid-October. The men’s basketball team is in the middle of a quarantine after opening the season in early November with two victories.

Ottawa expected to return to the court after Thanksgiving.

Ottawa men’s basketball coach said the gaining another year of eligibility is something the athletes can put in their back pocket.

“Some of the pressure is off now that the NAIA has ruled that everybody gets their year back,” he said. “Not everybody will take advantage of that for various reasons. We still have the option. We have not talked a lot about that with our guys.”

The NAIA earlier this year moved all their fall championships to the spring.