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How Is WVU Affected by Giving Athletes Another Year of Eligibility?

MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – (October 19, 2020) – The NCAA announced on Wednesday that winter sport Division I athletes that compete in the 2020-2021 will receive an extra year of eligibility.

Already, the NCAA extended the spring and fall athlete’s eligibility due to COVID-19, but now it is official that the winter athletes get an extra year.

“The pandemic will continue to impact winter sport seasons in ways we can’t predict. Council members opted to provide for winter sport student-athletes the same flexibility given spring and fall sports previously,” said Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Pennsylvania. “The actions today ensure the continuation of local decision-making in the best interest of each institution and its student-athletes.”

What does this mean for the winter sports at WVU? The winter sports that West Virginia competes in are basketball, gymnastics, rifle, swimming & diving, track & field, and wrestling.

There are many positives with this news, but there are also conflicts that programs will have to figure out in the future.

The positives are that student-athletes will be given another year to play the sport they love if they choose to. Players will be able to develop for another year into the potential player they want to be.

The negatives are the same for the spring and fall sports. Depending on if the NCAA keeps the same number of scholarships per team, teams will have to make decisions on who to keep on scholarships once the high school classes of 2021, 2022, and 2023 come to campus. 

Let’s take WVU basketball for example. Gabe Osabuohien and Taz Sherman are seniors for the 2020-21 season. Any other “normal” year, this would be their last season for the Mountaineers, but due to the COVID waivers, Osabuohien and Sherman may return to WVU in the 2021-22 season if they choose to.

This is where the potential problem may occur. WVU basketball coach Bob Huggins has already recruited two high school seniors to play for him next season in Seth Wilson and Kobe Johnson.

The NCAA rules are that the basketball teams can have up to 13 scholarship players play for the teams. If there are no players that leave the program, and Osabuohien and Sherman decide to play another year, Huggins would have 15 players on scholarships for the 2021-22 season.

Hopefully, the NCAA raises the scholarship number for all sports because every college program will have a conflict with this. 

Luckily for West Virginia, this means that sophomores Oscar Tshiebwe and Deuce McBride can play for the Mountaineers for another four years if they don’t go pro early.

There are a lot of positives that come out of this as fans of these WVU winter sports, but in the end, there is a chance that some of the talented high school athletes may be affected by this. We will just have to wait and see how this all plays out.

Photo Cred: WVU Sports

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