March is the sweet spot for sports fans. College basketball is usually wrapping up, the NBA is at its peak, baseball and softball are gearing up, spring training for college football is starting and we even have some golf to watch! This year is different though, but I’m not going to get into why — we all know why.
Here’s something you might not know and what should be giving sports fans and athletes some hope for what’s to come. While seasons were shortened or all out cancelled, discussions have been taking place at every school across the country and the NCAA, trying to figure out how to save what we all love — sports.
The fans spoke and the NCAA listened. The NCAA voted to grant all spring athletes an additional year of eligibility on Monday, March 30.
What does that mean? Well, for UVU, baseball, softball, men’s and women’s golf, as well as track and field will get to start their 2021 seasons as their 2020 season. The plot twist comes into play at the individual school level. According to an ESPN article, the decision on whether or not to grant the additional eligibility will be up to the college.
“The NCAA’s decision will extend the eligibility of all spring-sport student-athletes — not just seniors whose careers would have ended after the cancellation of their seasons — and will allow schools to expand their rosters beyond current scholarship limits to account for incoming recruits and seniors who were expected to leave,” said Mark Schlabach in the article.
Noticeably, the vote omitted winter sports. Several conferences across the country cancelled their men’s and women’s basketball postseasons and the NCAA cancelled March Madness.
For UVU, the women’s basketball team had their postseason cut short in a loss in the quarterfinals. The men on the other hand were never given the chance. Four seniors on the UVU roster were never given the opportunity to compete for a WAC title — let alone an NCAA title.
We wanted to know what the local community thought about this, so a poll was put on The Review’s Twitter account before the NCAA vote, asking what our readers thought, specifically about if UVU’s seniors should be granted another year. As I suspected, 87.5% of the polls participants believe seniors should be eligible for one more year.
The poll didn’t specify which seasons sports should get the extra eligibility, but fans reached out and gave us their opinions, most of which were in tune with what the NCAA was thinking.
“I would say only spring/summer sports should get an extra year,” a diehard UVU fan, Jacob Fox, commented on Twitter. “Fall and winter sports had either their full season or all of the season except postseason.”
While I agree with both Fox and the NCAA vote, I still feel for those athletes that didn’t get a chance to prove themselves tournament style. The Review’s sports editor Tanner Heath, had the opportunity to talk to UVU men’s basketball senior guard Bradley Kitchen after finding out the WAC tournament had been cancelled.
“Obviously we’re kind of disappointed, we came out this season to set a goal to win the WAC tournament so we could make it to the NCAA tournament,” said Kitchen. “We kind of just end our season without a chance to prove ourselves.”
Kyle McDonald, editor-in-chief of WAC Hoops Digest, also shared his thoughts to our tweet.
“I honestly don’t think they should create a waiver for winter sports. And I say that with all due respect to those student-athletes,” McDonald commented. “Had they played less than half of their season, sure. But in all reality they played nearly their entire season.”
So for now, athletes will have to practice and train on their own and celebrate their additional year to play the sport that they love. We will have to wait for sports to start back up again, period. Sadly for college sports we will have to wait until next fall, granted COVID-19 is under control by then — fingers crossed.
Luckily for all Wolverine sports fans the UVU athletic department has a YouTube channel where all of this season’s games can be found. Everything from baseball and softball, wrestling, basketball and even coaches interviews are online to satisfy your UVU sports cravings.
(Photo by Cameron Hunsinger)