AP source: NCAA recommends free year of eligibility for fall


FILE – In this Nov. 23, 2019, file photo, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields plays against Penn State during an NCAA college football game, in Columbus, Ohio. Fields, a sophomore and the Buckeyes’ Heisman Trophy finalist quarterback, said online classes allow him to split his time between studying at home or relaxing with Netflix and the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, where besides football facilities there is a new lavish lounge for players that offers made-to-order meals, massage chairs, video games on big screens and a cryogenic chamber. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)

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College athletes who play fall sports, including football, will be given a free year of eligibility no matter how much they compete over the next 10 months if an NCAA recommendation is approved later this week.

Two people with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press the NCAA Division I Council voted Wednesday to recommend all athletes whose fall seasons will be altered by the pandemic should get the year of eligibility back. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the council was still meeting and an official announcement had not yet been made.

The proposal needs approval by the Division I Board of Directors, which meets Friday.

COVID-19 concerns have led to all but six Division I leagues, including the Southeastern Conference, Big 12 and Atlantic Conferences, postponing all sports, with the hope of making them up in the spring semester.

The Big Ten and Pac-12 are among the conferences looking into an alternative football season, starting maybe as soon as January.

The Mid-American Conference and Mountain West have also postponed fall sports among those in the NCAA”s highest-tier of football. In the second tier of Division I, which has an NCAA playoff, all of the conferences have postponed fall sports, though a few schools are scheduled to play nonconference games.

Other fall sports include men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball and cross country.

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