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Unintended Consequences Of An Extra Year For Winter Athletes

A good idea in general, but it could really cause problems downstream

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North Dakota State v Duke
COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA - MARCH 22: Sam Griesel #5 of the North Dakota State Bison is defended by Jordan Goldwire #14 of the Duke Blue Devils in the first half during the first round of the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Colonial Life Arena on March 22, 2019 in Columbia, South Carolina.
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Over at the Duke Chronicle, Em Adler has an article up on the NCAA’s decision to grant winter athletes an extra season of eligibility and points out the complications for schools like Duke and Kentucky, with rapid turnover, and programs downstream:

“But these problems aren’t evenly affecting schools across the board—Duke is in a much better position to weather the storm than programs like High Point or Meredith. Group of 5 (G5) and mid-major schools are already under extreme financial stress from the pandemic, and allowing players to not count against scholarship limits will end up stretching those athletic budgets past their limits.

“There’s a lot of G5 and FCS schools whose entire athletic budgets have been provided by the revenue earned from “buy games.” Now that money is being taken away due to largely conference-only schedules across college football, while a few more scholarships are being added to the rolls...NCAA Chief Medical Officer Brian Hairline told USA Today that ‘we’re probably at a place where 20 percent to 30 percent of Division III schools may not survive this pandemic.’”

Duke could get an extra year from Jordan Goldwire and Patrick Tapé, which would be great. Goldwire is a skilled point guard who has improved every year at Duke and at a minimum, Tapé would provide very experienced and tough depth. Duke will be fine.

There’s something else that will happen to though: at the end of this year, a lot of smaller schools are going to lose a lot of guys as graduate transfers. They’ll just burn that extra year somewhere else. And that’s going to make things even worse since schools like Davidson, Dayton, East Tennessee State, Furman, Elon and so many others rely on basketball revenue much more than football. Losing their best and most experienced players could be a crippling blow on top of the damage that the pandemic has caused.