JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The NCAA Division I Council voted Monday to give college athletes who compete in spring sports such as baseball and softball to get back the season they lost, but did not guarantee financial aid.
Council members declined to extend eligibility for student-athletes in sports where all or much of their regular seasons were completed. Despite most of the season being played, ETSU head men’s basketball coach Steve Forbes was at the forefront of fighting for another year.
“It was my responsibility and the responsibility of a lot of other coaches to voice our opinion that should’ve at least be under consideration,” Forbes said. “The NCAA tournament is the pinnacle of their career, they worked the entire year to get there, to have it taken away from no fault of their own, I think it was an unfortunate situation.”
Most NCAA projected brackets had ETSU capturing a 10th or 11th seed, which set the Buccaneers up for a run of upsets. Even though the Bucs had a shot at making some noise in March, the head Buccaneer agrees with the NCAA’s decision to cancel the tournament.
“I think they did the right thing, what was best for everyone was our safety and our health,” Forbes said. “It seems to be getting worse and worse and it seems to me that it spreads very rapidly.”
It’s unfortunate East Tennessee wasn’t able to see where this was taking them, because the Buccaneers had plenty of momentum heading into the tournament. ETSU was riding a 12-game winning streak, coming off a SoCon Tournament Championship and making its second tournament appearance in the last four years.
This type of success makes Forbes believe his squad would’ve made a run in the Big Dance.
“Did we have a team that could advance? I think for sure,” Forbes said confidently. “A lot of it had to depend on who it was standing there in front of us, but we had a really good chance. We had an experienced team, we had a bigger team, we had big guards, strong guards.”
How much scholarship money will be made available to each athlete will be determined by the athlete’s school. The amount could range from nothing to as much the athlete received the year before.
Roster limits will be adjusted to fit returning athletes along with incoming freshman.