Basketball Recruiting - Most coaches feel seniors should not be granted extra year
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Most coaches feel seniors should not be granted extra year

Cassius Winston
Cassius Winston (AP Images)

It was March 11, and many seniors patiently waited for their March moment.

Little did they know that just hours later all of their dreams would be for naught and their college careers would end in a manner that none had seen before.

The NCAA Tournament, a time that was expected to kick off earlier this week at the First Four in Dayton, has been canceled. The coronavirus has shut down the sport, and in doing so it has erased any chance of Cassius Winston carrying Tom Izzo to his first national title since 2000, Myles Powell taking Seton Hall to its first Final Four since 1989 or Markus Howard climbing even higher in the record books.

Then, a proposal was made that all winter sport senior athletes should receive an additional year of eligibility. However, college basketball journalist Jon Rothstein reported Wednesday that the NCAA was leaning against such a ruling.

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Is that the right move?

While the general public and fans throw up their arms about the NCAA ruling, it appears that many coaches think it may have been the right move.

“As great as it would be to see seniors get an additional opportunity to compete at the college level, there are just too many moving parts to grant an additional season of eligibility to all seniors,” said a mid-major coach who will see most of his main players graduate in the spring. “This move affects scholarships, university funds, incoming student athletes, APR and many other aspects of college basketball. I think this situation is a true-life lesson to all that lost an opportunity.”

A power-five coach supported that stance.

“I do not think the eligibility of college seniors should be granted an extra year because the 2020 conference tournaments and the NCAA Tournament were canceled,” he said. “We all feel bad for players like Cassius Winston, Markus Howard and Sabrina Ionescu. To grant a full season of eligibility because two to three weeks of the previous season was unexpectedly canceled seems extreme.”

What if the NCAA had given every graduating senior - even those that had already completed their seasons - another shot at March glory?

“How will you judge those seniors who had already won or lost in their respective tournaments, which are most of the low- and mid-level leagues?” a Big East coach asked. “This extra year is only pertaining to the power leagues which were still being played? It will be impossible to have parity when allowing another year to just ‘some’ seniors.”

Beyond APR concerns, there are these questions: Who would pay for the scholarships? And how would a ruling affect scholarship count?

“So, there’s not going to be a limit on scholarships next year? They would have to give a blanket year to all seniors, not just those whose tournaments were canceled abruptly,” the Big East coach said. “It would be chaos.”

In the end, there seems to be no right or wrong answer to the question.

“It is such a crazy situation, because it affects 25% of the teams in college basketball that would have played in the postseason,” said a mid-major coach who would likely have made the NCAA Tournament.

“I really don’t know what the solution is.”