The National Collegiate Athletic Association offers an additional year of eligibility

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After COVID-19 shortened or interrupted the seasons this fall and winter, the National Collegiate Athletic Association extended athlete eligibility to six years.

Division III of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is giving student-athletes one last chance to compete after the COVID-19 pandemic robs them of potential seasons.

Athletes at Webster University who have participated in fall or winter sports can now return to the game after graduation if they choose to pursue graduate studies or a second major in college.

In the past, NCAA athletes were only five years old to compete for four seasons in their sport. When COVID-19 first emerged, fall and winter sports athletes had truncated seasons or, in some cases, no seasons at all.

To make up for lost seasons, NCAA athletes now have six years to play four years in their sport. This means that athletes can return after graduation or take an additional year off and continue to compete within six years.

Scott Kilgallon, athletic director at Webster University, believes the move to remove the legislation is more than reasonable for student athletes.

Rodson Etienne (right) plays with his teammates at an open pre-season gymnasium. Photo by Kaelin Triggs.

“I think it was common sense management by the NCAA,” Kilgallon said. “I think everyone was feeling really bad, certainly because of the truncated seasons or the lack of seasons at all. I think it made sense for the student athletes to have this option. You cannot recapture this experience. You only go through these four years of your life [once]. “

Student athletes who choose to take advantage of this opportunity have been in direct contact with the athletics department. There are many student-athletes in different places within their eligibility, so Kilgallon said close monitoring is underway.

“There has been a lot of work on this to make sure we stick to the blanket waiver,” Kilgallon said. “Of course, you want to make sure you’re giving the student-athlete solid, accurate advice to make sure they understand everything from their eligibility to the financial side. I would definitely say there is a lot more time to spend individually with student athletes who are considering this option.

Graduate student Rodson Etienne decided to seize this opportunity so that he could have one last basketball season after graduating in the spring of 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in sports communication.

Etienne had originally planned to play basketball abroad after his college athletic career. However, COVID-19 and the stipulations associated with the pandemic caused it to reassess its plans.

“I had to think about it because I had other projects,” said Etienne. “My plan was to try to go overseas, but when COVID hit there were a lot of restrictions overseas. So, I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to come back and play and use that time to get better and keep going abroad next summer.

With his previous season defined by the COVID-19 pandemic, Etienne is looking forward to the next basketball season to make up for the atypical past.

“Last year we played ten games, you know, the COVID season,” Etienne said. “It didn’t really matter. That’s why we have this year to play. It wasn’t the best season I’ve had. So this year the goal is to win it all – win the SLIAC title, then go to the Nationals – because last year we didn’t have any Nationals. If you won, it was for you. So this year [the team’s] the goal is to win it all, then go to the national championships and compete with the big teams.

Nathan Freyling made the decision to take a semester off and return the following year to compete in cross country. With his senior cross-country season on the horizon, Freyling didn’t want his season to be defined by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I wanted to give myself a fair chance to compete in the national cross country championships and I didn’t want to end up on a bad note,” Freyling said. “Cross country has been around for about half of my life. I love the sport and wanted to give myself a fair chance to end on a high note and not to finish on a non-existent season.

What Etienne and Freyling have in common is the desire to find their teammates one last time. Etienne is looking forward to the next basketball season, with the first game kicking off on November 9, 2021.

“Come to some games, support,” Etienne said. “Tell your friends to come out and support [the team]. We have a very special team. This is one of the reasons I came back because I knew it would be good this year.

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