By Adam Brown
Ole Miss’ spring sport athletes alongside everyone else across the country had their season cut short due to the COVID-19 outbreak, causing everyone to lose a season of eligibility.
On Monday, the NCAA Division 1 Council approved a one-year wavier for all student-athletes competing in spring sports.
“I don’t know if it could have gone any better for baseball,” head baseball coach Mike Bianco said. “There will still be some hoops to jump through and different things but the biggest thing that the athletic directors wanted was to give this year back.”
The Council will allow schools to self-apply a one-year extension of eligibility for spring-sport student-athletes, effectively extending each student’s five-year “clock” by a year, according to an NCAA release. This decision was especially important for student-athletes who had reached the end of their five-year clock in 2020 and saw their seasons end abruptly.
“The biggest thing was for the athletic directors to give these kids a year back,” Bianco said. “Not just seniors, but everybody involved. I think of course your heart goes out to the seniors cause it’s their last year.”
The Rebels had four seniors and a handful of juniors take the diamond this season. It will be a little bit of a struggle for the roster, but not as much as some other programs.
“The juggle for our program in years to come is the relief to come after this as you will have five classes on campus with only a scholarship limitation that was not even enough for four classes with 11.7,” Bianco said. “(With a) roster size of 35, we are getting some relief this year. Then look two years from now with basically two sophomore classes at the same time.”
Bianco says he’ll keep in constant communication with his players and advise them as best he can.
“Later this week, I am going to meet with the upperclassman individually either on the phone or FaceTime,” he said. “We never had exit meetings like we have at the end of the year. We will have to schedule those in the coming weeks because we had to say goodbye right then.”