NCAA announces flexibility in initial eligibility for 2021-2022

After months of hardships caused by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is some light at the end of the tunnel for Bahamian student-athletes in the not too distant future.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has already announced that student-athletes in the fall will be given an extra year of eligibility, but in addition to that, there will be flexibility in initial eligibility as it relates to entry for the 2021-2022 school year.

According to the association’s latest release, students who initially enroll full-time during the 2021-2022 academic year and intend to play NCAA Division I or II athletics, will not be required to take a standardized test to meet NCAA initial-eligibility requirements.

NCAA Eligibility Center Vice President Felicia Martin said the changes reflect the uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Given the continuing impact of COVID-19, the NCAA membership made this decision with the health and well-being of incoming students top of mind. We understand the uncertainty in the educational environment and believe these changes will help ensure students have a fair opportunity to meet the initial-eligibility standard,” she said to Michelle Brutlag Hosick, associate director of communications for the NCAA.

Hundreds of Bahamian student-athletes will be impacted. This latest initial-eligibility waiver will allow student-athletes to enroll in a division one or two school, based primarily on the core subjects they would have completed by the start of their seventh semester in high school, while maintaining a 2.3 grade point average (GPA) for division one schools and a 2.2 GPA for division two schools. They will be academically eligible if they complete 16 core course units.

These standards will be considered automatic waivers, meaning students would be eligible to receive athletics scholarships, practice and compete in their first year at an NCAA member school.

According to the report online, the initial-eligibility waiver was discussed among NCAA committee members 

given the continued disruption in secondary education due to COVID-19 while accepting the likelihood of further cancellations of ACT/SAT (American College Testing/Scholastic Assessment Test) examinations.

“The standardized test conversation isn’t a new point of discussion for our membership. Throughout the years, the requirement for initial eligibility has been examined quite frequently and discussed with our NCAA membership,” Martin said. “We remain committed to continuing to monitor and evaluate what is in the best interest of the college-bound student-athlete. We do anticipate some additional discussions with our membership.”

According to the report, the NCAA Eligibility Center also extended its policy to not require a separate review of distance, e-learning or hybrid programs offered by schools with NCAA-approved core courses during 2020-2021 in response to COVID-19.

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Sheldon Longley

Sheldon Longley joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2001 as a sports reporter. He was promoted to sports editor in 2008. Sheldon has an extensive background in sports reporting. He covered three Olympic Games and three world championships, along with multiple smaller regional and local games.

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