The NCAA voted Monday to extend spring-sport student-athletes eligibility for one season following their response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On March 12 the association announced the halt to all remaining competitions for college sports for the remainder of the school year. This included the cancellation of much of the season for sports like softball and baseball, as well as the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, which were set to begin the following week.
For Creighton athletes, the announcement was made during a busy week of competition: men’s basketball was participating in the Big East conference tournament less than a week after clinching the regular season title, men’s and women’s tennis were in Florida for tournaments and softball had just defeated Central Michigan before receiving the news that would end their seasons.
“I don’t think this is something we could’ve ever prepared for,” senior softball player Ashley Cantu said. “We were just kind of shocked.”
Three weeks following that decision, Cantu says she is still just as shocked and isn’t sure what to think of what may have been her final season. But even as one of the seniors on the softball team, the NCAA’s decision leaves Cantu and her teammates the opportunity to compete in an additional season for the Bluejays.
“It’s another opportunity for everyone to play that year that they’ve worked their whole life for,” Cantu said.
But she also realizes the benefits don’t just extend to playing time. Students will also have the opportunity to take extra classes if they choose to remain as student athletes, and this is something she thinks many student athletes will appreciate and take advantage of.
During the time leading up to the vote by the NCAA, Cantu was prepared for the decision and said she was expecting it, but she still isn’t sure what it could mean for herself.
As a nursing major, Cantu is already prepared for a fifth year at Creighton to complete academics, and therefore faces a different situation from her peers, but she appreciates the support she’s had from her team, especially head coach Brent Vigness.
“My coach is awesome. He’s been really supportive throughout,” Cantu said. “He’ll agree with whatever decision the seniors decide to make.”
While she doesn’t know her situation for next year, she appreciates the opportunities she’s had at Creighton and is happy for the opportunities the NCAA is giving her teammates and all spring-sport student athletes affected by the abrupt end to the year.
Although basketball seasons were not complete, winter sports were not included in the NCAA’s decision because much of the season was already completed.
To accommodate incoming recruits and student-athletes who choose to remain following this decision, there will also be adjusted financial aid rules to allow more members on scholarship. It will also increase the roster limit set in place for baseball.