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NCAA grants extra year of eligibility for current players

A recent ruling by the NCAA Division I Council could impact basketball recruiting and roster strategies through 2026.

The NCAA DI Council ruled last week that all winter sports athletes on current rosters will be granted an extra year of NCAA eligibility due to the unpredictable nature of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has already altered schedules (including summer workouts, recruiting visits and actual games) for every program, and the game procedures and logistics are still being discussed – even with the start of the 2020-21 regular season just five weeks away for some teams.

The University of Hawai’i, of course, is directly affected. The NCAA’s announcement did not include specific details about how scholarship issues would be handled in future years, so much of the information below is based on other media reports.

Photo courtesy www.hawaiiathletics.com

In relatable terms to the current UH roster, here’s what the recent ruling could lead to:

● Seniors Samuta Avea, Casdon Jardine and James Jean-Marie can play the entire 2020-21 season and conceivably return for the 2021-22 season, if they choose to do so.

If that is the case, their scholarships for the 2021-22 season likely would not count toward the NCAA limit of 13 scholarships per team. It also means that at least three newcomers – high school or junior college recruits, or DI transfers – would still be allowed to sign with UH for the 2021-22 season.

However, UH would likely be responsible for funding the “extra” scholarships if that scenario plays out.

● Freshmen Biwali Bayles and Beon Riley can play the entire 2020-21 season and conceivably still have four more years of eligibility at UH. If a redshirt season is involved as well, it means Bayles and/or Riley could be Warriors through the 2025-26 season.

Likewise, the current sophomores and juniors can also extend their respective careers at UH by one season, if they choose to do so.

It is worth noting that the school-funded “extra” scholarships are expected to end after the 2021-22 season. Thus, for example, if current juniors Manel Ayol, Mate Colina, Justin Hemsley and Junior Madut choose to stay at UH through the 2022-23 season, their respective scholarships would count toward the NCAA limit of 13 for that season (and therefore limiting the number of new recruits who could sign with UH for that season).

● The issue of current players who transfer in the near future is unclear at this time. For example, could a current junior at another DI school transfer to UH for the 2021-22 season, sit out that 2021-22 season per current transfer rules, and then still have two years of playing eligibility after that? Not sure.

Is that confusing enough? Given the unforeseeable future of the pandemic, the rules and regulations could change at any time. Furthermore, if the decade of the 2010s was any indication, the open willingness of student-athletes to transfer to a different school will likely continue, thus making rosters fluid for every program, every year, anyway.

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