Spring Athletics Suspended, Returning Players Retain Eligibility in 2021

Ed Strong

SCC’s spring athletes will get a chance to replace their lost 2020 season.

The Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC) has joined the other major U.S. collegiate athletic associations (most notably the NCAA) by not charging athletes a year of eligibility for the spring season of 2020, according to a press release. As long as they continue to be enrolled, students can be on the active roster for two seasons. 

Current sophomores – those who played their freshman season in spring 2019 – would normally be out of eligibility a couple of months from now, but instead will be allowed to play as sophomore in 2021, as long as they’re still enrolled in classes. Current freshmen will be eligible through 2022.

The NWAC suspended all sports on March 16 and will not resume for the rest of the school year. For a handful of winter athletes, this cut off the chance to win a championship, as both the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments were unable to finish the opening round before being cancelled, but at least their regular seasons happened normally.

SCC’s men’s basketball team was one of the few teams that even got to play a postseason game at all. They fell 86-82 to South Puget Sound early in the morning of March 12 before the whole tournament was cancelled a few hours later.

The basketball teams were lucky compared to those who play spring sports. SCC’s baseball and softball teams played just a handful of games before having their seasons end abruptly, with baseball finishing with a record of 6-4 and softball just 3-2. Other NWAC spring sports affected by the cancellations include track & field, tennis and golf, although SCC does not have a team in any of these sports.

Side Effects

Transfers

Although some players will surely use the opportunity to play another season at their current school, there’s a lot more things to think about than just from a purely competitive standpoint. Many of these student-athletes are likely to be graduating in June. Will players at two-year colleges who are graduating at the end of spring (or soon afterwards) seek to use their extra season of eligibility by transferring to a four-year school, where they can work toward a four-year degree?

Scholarships

Budgeting this whole plan is still an issue that needs ironing out. Even though the season is cancelled, SCC is still covering the athletic scholarships for their players as if the season were happening. Next year, the roster could be up to 50% larger than normal, if all sophomores choose to return and a new freshman class of a similar size joins the team.