NCAA grants an extra year of eligibility for winter sport athletes


Caterina Pye '23

The NCAA announces that Division I winter sport student-athletes will receive an additional year of competition.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) announced that Division I (DI) winter sport student-athletes who compete during the 2020-2021 season will receive an additional year of competition and season of completion due to COVID-19.  This decision means that all athletes have the chance to complete their seasons without any interruptions.  The DI Council decided this through video conference October 13 and 14.

Ms. Erin O’Connor ’20 and her UVA squash teammates practice with face shields.  Courtesy of Ms. Erin O’Connor

Ten members of the Sacred Heart Greenwich Class of 2020 are continuing their athletic careers in college.  One alumna, Ms. Erin O’Connor ’20, was a member of the varsity squash team at Sacred Heart and is continuing her squash career at the University of Virginia (UVA).  Ms. O’Connor gave insight on the impact of COVID-19 and its effects on her squash season, as well as the new eligibility rule.

“Covid has definitely made it very strange,” Ms. O’Connor said.  “But our team is unique because we are the only women program in the country that is practicing right now.  Even though we have to wear masks and face shields at all times, it is so nice being able to get on the court and bond with my teammates.”

Ms. O’Connor was a 2019 Fairchester Athletic Association (FAA) All-League honoree and she placed third in her draw at the 2019 New England Preparatory School Athletic Council Championships, according to

“Being a first-year, I really appreciate being able to get out of the dorm for lift and practice which not all students are able to do,” Ms. O’Connor said.  “While I can’t wait for things to be back to normal, our team has done a great job of finding fun and safe ways to bond with each other.”

Ms. O’Connor is continuing her squash career at the University of Virginia.  Courtesy of Ms. Rachel Zurheide

The pandemic has impacted the fall and spring sports seasons and continues to disrupt the winter season unpredictably.  After granting spring and fall athletes an extra year of eligibility October 14, NCAA rule-makers decided to give the same opportunity to all athletes who are participating in the upcoming winter season, according to ncaa.orgThis additional year of competition applies to all the current 2020-2021 DI winter student-athletes who were not able to complete their season.  In the future, the DI Council could institute more rules due to the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19.

“Our team hasn’t had a ton of exposure to the new eligibility rule because our season will not take place until early February now, as opposed to a November start,” Ms. O’Connor said.  “However, I am sure it will definitely change the team structure going forward, hopefully in a good way.”

Featured Image by Caterina Pye ’23