The NCAA has given good news to athletes like Williams hockey players Niko Karamanis and Meghan Halloran, MCLA basketball players like Mike DeMartinis or Peyton Steinman and Grace Guachione of Saint Anselm. They, along with every other winter sports athlete in the nation, will receive another year of eligibility.
“I think it’s a good decision to give our student-athletes as much flexibility during these uncertain times,” MASCAC commissioner Angela Baumann said. “I think it’s in the best interest of our student-athletes.”
The NCAA Division III Management Council announced on Wednesday that it would forward a recommendation to the Presidents Council to allow all D-III student-athletes to compete in the 2020-21 school year without being charged a season of participation.
The blanket waiver request would not charge student-athletes “a term of attendance for any term during the 2020-21 academic year in which they were eligible for competition,” a statement from the NCAA read.
“Several perspectives were brought to the table and, ultimately, I believe the consensus point for the council is recognition of the undue stress and mental health impact the uncertainty of college sports amidst a global pandemic has placed on student athletes,” Heather Benning the chair of the Management Council and the executive director of the Midwest Conference, said in a statement. “Providing this one-year waiver will provide definitive guidance for D-III student athletes making academic and athletic decisions for the winter and spring terms.”
According to the release from the NCAA, almost three quarters of the Division III conferences — a group that includes Baumann’s MASCAC and NESCAC — recommended the season-of-participation blanket waiver.
The story was the same with the Division II Management Council.
“Winter student-athletes lost out on their championship opportunity last season and many will have shortened, conference-only seasons this year,” Chris Graham, Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference commissioner and the chair of the D-II Management Council. “We believe providing the maximum season-of-competition waiver flexibility is the right thing to do for winter student-athletes who continue to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Like in Division III, the D-II will need approval of the President’s Council.
With that now in Division III’s rearview mirror, MASCAC’s Baumann said that now she and the members of the conference — including MCLA — can begin planning for what the winter sports season will look like. MASCAC schools play men’s and women’s basketball and have men’s and women’s indoor track and field. MASCAC also sponsors men’s ice hockey, but only five of the eight conference schools field teams. MASCAC also has Western Connecticut State in the conference for football.
“We’re looking at multiple scenarios. The NCAA is releasing more information through the Sports Science Institute,” said Baumann. “The state [of Massachusetts] is going to be releasing more information, updated guidelines, in the beginning of November for youth sports and amateur sports.
“We’re waiting on that information.”
Two of the seven MASCAC hockey teams are full-time members of other conferences, and Plymouth (N.H.) State is the only team in the hockey league that does not have to adhere to Massachusetts regulations regarding COVID-19 prevention.
“We are monitoring [New Hampshire], as well as Connecticut for football in the spring,” she said.