Has the NCAA’s Response to Covid-19 Provided an Unfair Advantage to Some Programs?
As we all know, Covid-19 has taken a large toll on not only this country but the world over the last 12 months. On March 12th , 2020, the NCAA made the decision to cancel the Wrestling Championships due to the increasing threat of Covid-19. It was later decided that all winter athletes listed as seniors would not be granted an extra year of eligibility. This decision abruptly ended their college careers just before they had the opportunity to perform on the sports largest stage.
As we closed the book on the 2019-2020 season, the coaches started looking towards the 2020-2021 wrestling season. This brought about its own challenges. Coaches and wrestlers were not allowed to have structured in person practices until roughly August 2020. Up until that point, any workouts were solely on the wrestler. Wrestlers reported they practiced anywhere there was a mat and sometimes places that may have been considered unconventional. A wrestler’s mindset and discipline set them apart from most athletes but even they struggled at times.
On October 14th , 2020, the NCAA released a statement reporting the D1 council has extended eligibility for winter sport athletes. What does this mean exactly? It means all winter sport athletes will be granted an additional year of eligibility and an additional year to complete it. This means winter athletes choosing to compete will have a free season. On the surface this appears to be an excellent decision for both the teams and the wrestlers, but as you dig deeper it provides unfair advantages to certain programs. It was also stated that athletes who would have exhausted their eligibility in the 2020-2021 season will be granted an additional year of eligibility but will not count towards a team’s financial aid limits.
Division one programs are allotted a pool of scholarship money to award 9.9 scholarships. This number alone is asinine considering the average team has 30 athletes. Now where does the NCAA’s decision provide an unfair advantage? For example, Iowa has 6 wrestlers in their lineup that are considered seniors which include: Spencer Lee, Austin Desanto, Jaydin Eierman, Michael Kemerer, Alex Marinelli, and Kaleb Young. Per the NCAA’s release these young men can return to Iowa next year and not count towards Iowa’s 9.9 guideline. This will allow Iowa to provide scholarship money to them and free up money from 6 athletes to provide to incoming recruits or existing members of the team. If this is not a huge advantage, I do not know what is. As of now, Eierman, Marinelli, and Lee have reported they are returning next season. As you all know Iowa finished the season at National Champions with many of these wrestlers making the podium.
Written by: Brandon Dodson
Follow me @RecruitingBucks