NCAA Division I Council recommends eligibility extensions due to coronavirus pandemic

The NCAA Division I Council recommended Wednesday that the Division I board of directors give student-athletes impacted by the coronavirus pandemic an extension of their five-year period of eligibility and an additional season of competition if they participate in 50% or less of the maximum number of competitions allowed in each sport under NCAA rules.

In a statement, the Division I Council said it would finalize its recommendations and might decide to push forward additional protections for student-athletes, including a prohibition on canceling, reducing or not renewing athletics aid for student-athletes who opt out due to the coronavirus, along with required medical coverage for COVID-19 if a student contracts the virus through athletics participation.

The recommendations will be made to the Division I board of directors next week.

"In this time of uncertainty, the Council members are working to create additional flexibility for college athletes whose seasons have been negatively impacted by the pandemic," council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletic director at Pennsylvania, said in a statement. "Every day things are changing in college sport, and we want to be as responsive as possible, with the best information, to help student-athletes and their families make important decisions for their future. The Council worked hard today and will seek membership input before we make final recommendations to the board next week."

In addition, the Division I Council adopted emergency legislation in response to an injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken, which will allow member institutions to provide computers, musical instruments and other educational items not included in cost of attendance; post-eligibility scholarships and aid to complete undergraduate or graduate studies and to attend vocational schools; paid internships and tutoring; and expenses related to studying abroad. NCAA rules previously permitted some of those benefits.

The injunction affects student-athletes in men's and women's basketball and FBS football. According to the NCAA statement, Wilken's injunction permits these benefits but does not require schools to offer them. The injunction also allows conferences to set limits if they choose to do so.

The NCAA said it plans to appeal the Alston/grant-in-aid antitrust case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The NCAA also extended the temporary recruiting dead period for all sports through Sept. 30.