WACO, Texas — This fall, no college athlete will lose a year of eligibility, no matter how many games they play in.
That decision came down from the NCAA Division I legislative council Friday as all fall sports, except FBS football, were moved to the spring. Some FCS conferences, however, have allowed member squads to play non-conference games in order to generate much-needed revenue for the athletic department.
Even further, there are still so many questions about what a football season will look like.
"I think it's the right move and I'm pleased that they did it," Baylor coach Dave Aranda said Saturday.
Conferences have left more flexibility than normal in order to make up games missed due to outbreaks of COVID-19 with most schools allowed to play a non-conference game doing so with a bye week between that game and their altered conference schedule.
So, with that, fall sport athletes will get the same benefit spring sport athletes did at the onset of the pandemic in March.
"I think it's the fair thing to do for our kids," third-year Texas A&M football coach Jimbo Fisher said in his press conference Saturday.
Aranda, in his first season as a collegiate head coach fresh off a national title as defensive coordinator at LSU, echoed the senitiment saying it's the right thing for college athletes.
But, there's a problem the waiver creates with fall sports, now, that only spring sports had to endure before.
It creates a back log of players waiting their turn behind stars or upper-classmen.
"As far as the administration side of it, that's something that we've talked about," Aranda said. "I think a lot of it is, 'This is what we're doing because of the here and now, the circumstance that we're in.'"
At the FBS level, the MAC, Mountain West, Pac 12 and Big Ten all postponed fall sports. The Big 12 is allowing its normal nine conference games but reducing the number of non-conference games from three to one. The ACC is playing 10 conference games, more than its standard eight, and just one non-conference game, meaning its schools will lose just one game in 2020.
The SEC is playing a 10-game conference-only schedule, much like the Big Ten and Pac 12 had announced before eventually calling it on the fall. Conference USA, the Sun Belt and the American Athletic Conference are all still planning to allow member schools to play as many non-conference games as they can.
And now, with the blanket waiver, they can get better looks at young or developing players without the standard limit of four games.
"The general rule is a certain number of games and we're not under that right now," Aranda said.
The waiver applies to football, cross country, volleyball and soccer athletes.