On March 30, 2020 the NCAA, the Division I Council voted to allow schools to provide spring-sport student-athletes an additional season of competition and an extension of their period of eligibility. They also made allowances for scholarship limits and financial aid for these athletes.
This could become an acute problem for UCLA’s softball team with regards to playing time. The transfer portal has already seen a record number of entries and some speculate the lack of playing time available for younger players is the cause.
The Bruin coaches’ ability to juggle lineups may determine the impact on the team as early as next year.
UCLA’s 2021 starting lineup reads like an all-star team with 2 players batting over .300 coming off the bench. With Rachel Garcia and Bubba Nickles returning to the team, UCLA’s returning roster could potentially rise to 22 players depending on Jenavee Peres (GT) and Jacqui Prober (Sr). 5 incoming freshman will create even more competition for playing time.
The 2022 Bruins have 7 players who could extend their college playing careers including 5 starters and 2 supersubs. Add the 4 incoming freshman (1 top 10) and the roster could again balloon to 27 players.
This roster congestion could continue until the 2020 freshmen are seniors in 2024 unless some of the eligible players choose not to extend.
So far there has not been any significant fallout due to this decision. The top 2020 and 2021 recruits already saw a talent laden squad returning after top ten classes for two years in a row and chose to go elsewhere. In 2022, recruiting is back on track with two top 20 recruits (6 still uncommitted).
UCLA has one player listed in the Transfer Portal although I have not seen this player on any official roster (Pac-12 has 15 total). As fall ball approaches, I expect to see some additional departures similar to last year when 4 players left and in 2019 when 2 players left.
Overall this is not such a terrible problem but still needs to be managed to maintain teamwork and cohesion.