RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT)- The NCAA ruled on Monday to allow spring sports student-athletes who had their seasons canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic one additional year of eligibility. Individual schools can decide whether or not to give their athletes this option, but the news has many optimistic about playing again in the future.
Manchester graduate Nick Butts is now a redshirt senior pitcher on William & Mary's baseball team. He was one of many seniors who saw their careers cut short.
"That obviously hit everyone pretty hard," said Butts. "It was a lot of uncertainty for a good three days, but it all happened so fast."
Now many student-athletes are breathing sighs of relief, after the NCAA's decision that schools will have the option to grant an extra year of eligibility to spring athletes whose seasons were cancelled. Nick does not plan to utilize that option, but many of his teammates have been pretty excited since the announcement came down.
"It would be very unfair, I feel like, to everyone who worked so hard to get where they were and that just be it. There's nothing else you can do," Nick said. "I think they put the players' best interests in their minds and made the right decision."
VCU athletic director Ed McLaughlin agrees, saying that people can't say that it's all about the student-athletes and then not make this happen.
"It's good news for our student-athletes, it's good news for our fans who come watch them play, it's good news for our coaches, it's good news for everybody at a time when I think we all need good news."
McLaughlin acknowledges that there are certain logistical aspects to figure out, such as financial details, travel accommodations, uniforms, etc., but he also says that these are good problems to have, and while some schools may opt not to move forward with the extra year of eligibility, VCU is moving full speed ahead.
"It's gratifying for us as administrators to be able to tell our coaches and our student-athletes 'hey listen, we're going forward, so let's go figure these things out.' We're happy about that," McLaughlin said.
The head Ram also noted that cancelling the spring seasons was definitely the right decision, and that the health and well-being of the athletes, fans and others is the most important thing. However, McLaughlin, like many of us, will be glad when sports make a comeback.
"We've got to stay home, and not being able to play sports is just one consequence. I will say everyone, including our student-athletes, but I'm sure you all as journalists and all of that, we're ready to play sports again, ready to have games."
The University of Richmond released a statement on Tuesday afternoon, as well.
“The University of Richmond supports the NCAA Division I Council’s action to provide eligibility relief to student-athletes in spring sports who had their seasons cancelled due to COVID-19. This is a highly complex matter and we are in the process of assessing how this action will impact our student-athletes and sport programs to determine the best path forward.”
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