Virginia Athletics News: NCAA To Grant “Eligibility Relief” For Spring Sports

It appears senior Stephen Schoch may be able to return to Virginia next season. ~ Photo courtesy of Matt Riley

On the heels of cancelling winter and spring sports championships, the NCAA announced it is in favor of “eligibility relief” for student athletes competing in spring sports.

“Council leadership agreed that eligibility relief is appropriate for all Division 1 student-athletes who participated in spring sports,” the NCAA tweeted on Friday (March 13). “Details of eligibility relief will be finalized at a later time. Additional issues with NCAA rules must be addressed, and appropriate governance bodies will work through those in the coming days and weeks.”

Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports reports that the eligibility relief extends to “beach volleyball (women), golf (men, women), baseball, lacrosse (m,w), rowing (w), softball, tennis (m,w), outdoor track (m,w), men’s volleyball, water polo (women).”

It would be awesome to see senior pitcher Stephen Schoch, whose dream of playing for the Cavaliers was realized this season, have another chance to play a full season for head coach Brian O’Connor. Schoch was off to a great start in 2020, recording five saves in 11 appearances for the Hoos, who just captured a series over highly ranked NC State and were 14-4 overall.

For seniors competing for national championships in winter sports, the cancellations are heartbreaking, though the NCAA reportedly is at least discussing what can be done, if anything, to help those affected.

The most visible winter sport championship cancellation is the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Virginia redshirt senior Mamadi Diakite reflected on early this morning on the end of his accomplished Cavalier career. Diakite and fellow senior Braxton Key were instrumental in UVA’s 2019 championship run and major figures in helping the team finish with a 23-7 record, second place in the ACC, and no. 17 in the final Associated Press Top 25 poll.

Senior student-athletes in indoor track & field, men’s and women’s swimming, and wrestling are dealing with the disappointment of not being able to compete for NCAA titles. This includes highly decorated senior wrestler Jack Mueller, who reached the NCAA title match for his weight category in 2019. The All-American Mueller was one of six qualifiers UVA wrestling had for NCAA title matches. He was the only senior.

Other winter sports seniors impacted by the cancellations include:

Indoor Track & Field: Brenton Foster (high jump) and reigning NCAA indoor triple jump champion Jordan Scott

Men’s Swimming: Ryan Baker (alternate), Joe Clark, Ted Schubert

Women’s Swimming: Morgan Hill, Megan Maroney

UVA Coach Reactions

Jeff White produced this article that includes reaction from spring sports coaches such as wrestling’s Steve Garland, baseball’s Brian O’Connor, and others. Virginia men’s basketball head coach Tony Bennett released a statement of his own on Friday.

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  1. I feel for all of our winter athletes, BUT!!!! How does our swim program get so consistently overlooked? Our men are ranked top 10 in the country, and our Women’s swim team was the outright clear favorite to win the National Championship based on the psych sheet that came out last week!! And no other team works harder than them to represent our school!

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