On Monday, the NCAA Division 1 council voted to give all spring athletes an extra year of eligibility. Schools across the division one landscape will be able to take back student-athletes whose season was lost to COVID-19. For college baseball players, this ruling gives them an extra option to consider when deciding what there next move could or should be. This decision will allow baseball programs across the county, for one year, to carry extra players on their rosters. incoming classes will also be included.
With NCAA college baseball programs only allowed to offer 11.7 scholarships per year, being able to pay for the extra year for those students who want to come back and play one more season is an interesting question. The council will also give these schools some financial aid adjustments to help with the extra scholarships they will take on. For the most part, the adjustment in aid will apply to those players in their final year of eligibility. That would be consistent with the idea that the window to play college baseball is four years in a five-year plan.
Draft-eligible players now have one more thing to take into account when making their decision on whether to return for one more year of college ball or making themselves available for the draft. In light of what Major League Baseball is looking into, which is delaying the draft until possible July, and making the process shorter from the normal 40 rounds to as little as five. Players must think long and hard about what to do next and if they are draft material. The idea of going back to school sounds good. Especially since schools will be given the chance to honor that last year. But what if the school can’t afford to take them back? The transfer portal is an option, but with the possibility of many players looking to use that device to find a school that can afford to take them on for one year, there is a chance that the portal could have more names in it than schools who can take them on.
The draft is always a risky proposition. Even more so, if there are fewer rounds to be drafted in. Even if MLB decided to cut the process in half to say twenty rounds, there will still be plenty of players who will not get drafted and instead become free-agents. That, at best, will get a bonus check of twenty thousand dollars and a chance to chase their dreams. There has been some talk that some major league teams in the coming days, once everything calms down, will hold open tryouts to allow teams to work players out to see where they fit. Does drafting them sound good, or does letting them become free agents seems like a better idea? And what happens if a player has a bad try out? Will they still be able to go back to college and play one more year? Or will that be taken away from a player because no one has any room to take him?
Whatever the outcome of all of this becomes, the one good thing that has come from this is the NCAA has stepped up and is given spring athletes a year back that through no fault of their own, they were going to lose.