The NCAA’s new eligibility rule from a coach and student-athlete’s perspective

John Watson, News Director

Featured image by: Darvin Nelson

COVID-19 has put seniors’ collegiate careers in jeopardy but a recent announcement from the NCAA could provide athletes with another opportunity to take the field.

The NCAA announced recently that spring season athletes who had their seasons cut short due to COVID-19 would be able to benefit from an extra year of eligibility. This means that athletes in spring sports would be able to come back for another season after their senior year.

Khorri Newton
The men’s tennis team finished with an 8-2 record this season

UNF felt the effects of the cancelled season campus-wide as many programs came to a screeching halt. The teams that were affected were tennis, beach volleyball, baseball, softball, golf, and track.

The UNF baseball team had just wrapped up a series against Big Ten opponent Ohio State when the news was broken that their season would not continue. Senior pitcher for the Ospreys, Brandon Reitz, noted that their team was gaining confidence before the cancellations.

“I think we were feeling pretty good, they (Ohio State) are in a tough conference so that makes them a well-rounded team and our team got better because of the challenge,” Reitz said.

Reitz potentially saw his college career come to an end in a three-inning relief appearance in game one of the Ohio State series, but there is still more fuel in the tank for his college career.

“As a senior this year, I will be using the extra year of eligibility to play what will be my fifth season,” Reitz said. “Coach (Parenton) gave us the option and I will be coming back to get my MBA as well.”

Reitz and the baseball team’s season came to an abrupt end but the future looks bright for the Ospreys on the diamond in the coming years.

The men’s tennis team also felt the heat of cancellation as their best start in program history came to a bitter end. Coming off a tough loss to nationally ranked Duke and a 5-2 win over a hot Chattanooga team, head men’s tennis coach Matt Lucas saw the effects of the cancellation rippling through his team.

“It was an exciting time for our team and for our program because we were making some really good strides,” Lucas said. “To have that come short was definitely disappointing for myself and the coaching staff and the guys, most importantly.”

However, Lucas did think the NCAA made the right decision to give spring athletes an extra year of eligibility.

“Kudos to the NCAA, because that’s something that needed to be done and you can’t rob these guys of their opportunities with the team… they came to compete as student-athletes,” Lucas said.

It is no secret that the men’s tennis team is made up of numerous international players. Coach Lucas has been communicating with his players through text, FaceTime and Zoom. The UNF men’s tennis coach hopes that the student-athletes are using this situation to spend quality time with family. 

While there is no timetable for when sports will continue on UNF’s campus, both Coach Lucas and Reitz are taking their mind off with sports, just not baseball or tennis.

“Golf, golf, and more golf,” Reitz said.


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