SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The National Collegiate Athletic Association’s basketball tournament, March Madness, was supposed to begin Thursday, but it has since been canceled along with all winter and spring sports due to the virus pandemic.
There has been plenty of discussions, however, about giving a year back, especially to seniors who had their collegiate career cut short.
Close to 300 student-athletes at Sacramento State have been impacted by the NCAA’s decision. The current conversation is that winter sports, like basketball, had their seasons cut short and will not be giving another year of eligibility. But spring sports, like baseball and track, will be given eligibility relief.
“These are beyond the control of the student-athletes who sank their hearts into their sports,” said Sacramento State Athletic Director Mark Orr. “So we’re doing everything we can to analyze if there are opportunities to get their year back, provide some sort of relief to allow these student-athletes to finish their careers in a good way.”
Fifth-year senior Matt Smith is one of many Hornet athletes hoping for a positive decision from the NCAA.
“I still have a year left of school, being in the master’s program here,” Smith told FOX40. “So, I fully intend on using that extra year and coming back, finishing my degree and getting to play with my friends who I have built relationships with the past six months and continuing where we left off.”
Granting eligibility relief, however, brings on a whole new set of concerns, like expanding roster size to accommodate incoming athletes who have committed to a university. Scholarship money and playing time are also some other issues that could arise.
“You’re all fighting for a spot, but the NCAA will do right and they’ll make some adjustments in ensuring everyone gets a fair shot,” said Smith.
So far, the NCAA has given no timeline for an official decision when it comes to eligibility relief and said they are still gathering information.
“I mean there’s a lot of unknowns. But I’m very proud of the NCAA leadership and all the athletic directors and presidents coming together to figure out a way on what we can do and explore every opportunity out there,” said Orr.
The only sport that you could see Sacramento State play in is football, since its spring workouts begin April 6, but that could even change. Football is a fall sport and not under the same parameters as the winter and spring sports.