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Bruins winter student-athletes to receive free year of eligibility

Winter student-athletes set to receive the same free year of eligibility as fall and spring athletes did

NCAA Basketball: Utah at UCLA Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The UCLA Bruins winter sports student-athletes will officially be given a free year of eligibility, thanks to a vote of approval from the NCAA Division I Council.

The Council voted to approve a free year of eligibility as well as a new bowl game competition rule that would allow teams to play in a bowl game regardless of their record this week. In a normal season, each team would have to have a .500 record in order to qualify for a bowl game but this season, no matter the team’s record, they’ll essentially all be eligible.

As for the winter student-athletes, they now have the freedom of mind to not fear losing a year of eligibility while playing through a global pandemic.

“We felt it was important to make this decision now so student-athletes had the peace of mind to go into this season and compete,” Council Chair Grace Calhoun told ESPN on Wednesday. “They know they can regain that eligibility and have their clock automatically extended, so they’re not taking that chance on the front end if they choose to compete.”

Spring and fall student-athletes had the same waiver granted to them much earlier this season as their athletic calendars have been affected as well. The winter student-athletes are back to the practice courts amid the pandemic but now have the knowledge of the eligibility freedom not hanging over them anymore.

The Council also pushed this week to come to a decision as soon as possible on a duo of other significant rule changes including talks about the Name, Image and Likeness ruling in 2021, as well as a new one-time transfer rule that would allow all NCAA sports to see athletes transfer in or out and play that same season without sitting out.

The NCAA Council did the right thing by granting the free year of eligibility, as now the winter student-athletes don’t have that hanging over their heads amid everything else that is going on in the world.