The NCAA Board of Governors on Friday adopted Wednesday recommendations by its Division I council to allow all 2020 fall sports athletes to retain a year of eligibility regardless of the outcome of the 2020-21 athletic season.
Originally reported by Yahoo Sports' Pete Thamel, the NCAA's decision will allow any fall sport athlete "to receive both an additional year of eligibility and an additional year in which to complete it."
Sports affected by the NCAA's decision include field hockey, men's and women's soccer, women's volleyball and, most notably, football.
The NCAA's announcement also prohibits member institutions from canceling scholarships should a college athlete opt not to play in the 2020-21 athletic season, or from requiring them to waive their legal rights regarding COVID-19. It also specifies that "the financial aid of fall sport senior student-athletes who take advantage of the extra year of eligibility and extended clock will not count against team limits in 2021-22."
That should limit issues coaches may have with roster management, though athletic directors may still need to figure out how best to manage their budget if teams return move players than usual due as part of the NCAA's mandate.
Another issue not mentioned in the NCAA's decision is early enrollees in conferences opting for spring football seasons. Those players could conceivably burn two seasons of eligibility in one calendar year by playing a spring season in 2021 and another the following fall.
"This isn't a normal year," West Virginia athletic director and NCAA council member Shane Lyons told CBS Sports on Tuesday. "If we're really serving the student-athletes, why not just give this year of eligibility? The downside is people are going to say you're going to have an issue at the back end with a (roster) bottleneck. That always works itself out.
"Coaches are going to want, want, want," Lyons said. "We're going to have to adjust. We're not going to use COVID as an excuse for everything. Some can argue right now that 85 is too many."
This story has been updated from a previous version.