The NCAA has now granted all athletes, regardless of season, an extra year of eligibility due to COVID-19, and USD is currently trying to navigate what that means for each sport.
“Our approach has been, to me it is permissible,” USD Athletic Director David Herbster said. “If our coaches can do it then let’s find a way to make it happen from a roster standpoint, but we don’t have the additional funds to support scholarships above and beyond what each team already has.”
Herbster said this conversation is going to be had with each team, and each student-athlete because each situation is different. The NCAA allows for teams to exceed their scholarship limit for next season but doesn’t provide the funds to cover the extra scholarships.
Every student athlete is eligible for an extra year of competition, even if their season is played in full this spring, Herbster said. Some students will take the extra year, but others may not want to spend the extra year in school or competing.
“Some are going to want to stay, some are going to want to play and those are the conversations that coaches and I will have with the teams and student athletes,” Herbster said.
Herbster said the NCAA doesn’t have plans if there were to be another outbreak that would cause a shutdown of spring competition all together. Softball, track and field, tennis and mens and womens golf all could lose a second year of competition if that happens.
“From an NCAA perspective, if that were to happen, they have not picked up that conversation,” Herbster said. “They’ll have that conversation if they have to get to that point…. But you think about softball, track and field, tennis, men’s golf, women’s golf. That’s five sports that could potentially lose another season, That, to me, there’s no answer for right now.”
As of now, all sports are on as scheduled, with basketball starting up later this month, swimming and diving holding another intrasquad meet in November and track and field trying to schedule an indoor meet for December.
“What we are finding right now is that the opportunity to go to meets or to have competitions in track and swimming, there’s really nothing for the month of December,” Herbster said.
When basketball kicks off later this month, USD will be allowing fans, but capacity will be less than 40%, Herbster said. Students, season ticket holders and families of players have priority. Herbster said he is not sure there will be single game ticket sales at this point.
Overall, Herbster said he is proud of how the athletic department is handling everything that has come with COVID-19.
“Our coaches and staff have done a great job of trying to find a way,” Herbster said. “That’s been our motto since March or April, we just have to find a way. That’s what we wake up in the morning to do every day.”