For many years, NCAA regulations stated that college student-athletes are allowed five years to play four years of their sport.
That was before COVID-19 brought many college sports to a halt in early 2020. The pandemic postponed games, shortened seasons and sidelined competitors.
After months of stop-and-go athletic schedules, NCAA officials decided that all winter and spring athletes would be given an additional year of eligibility as part of one-time rule changes in response to the pandemic.
For some student-athletes, the offer was too good to pass up.
The extra year allowed Meredith Holton ’21 to continue her soccer career at the College.
“I was not ready to hang up my cleats yet,” says Holton, who earned a degree in accounting and is using the extra year to work on her master’s before taking the CPA exam. “I always planned on taking my fifth year after my freshman year, but the COVID year gave me the opportunity to extend that.”
Same goes for Peyton Martin, a transfer student who is glad to have the opportunity to extend her basketball career after finishing four years at Arkansas State University. The additional year at CofC provided her with more choices.
“This opportunity opened up doors that I never thought could be opened,” says Martin, who is working toward her master’s degree in community planning, policy and design.
Dalton Bolon brought more than just his basketball skills when he transferred to the College from West Virginia’s West Liberty University this fall, having already earned a bachelor’s in biology and a master’s as a physician’s assistant before stepping foot on the CofC campus. As a CofC student-athlete, Bolon is now earning a master’s in communication. He says the extension was one of the very few positives that came out of the pandemic: “I look at it as giving me an extra year to play college basketball. Not too many people get to do that.”
In all, 31 student-athletes at the College have taken the opportunity to extend their eligibility, 13 of whom had already graduated from other schools and decided to transfer to CofC to take graduate classes and continue competing in their sport.
Athletics Director Matt Roberts is glad the NCAA made the decision.
“All in all, it’s been very positive for us,” he says. “It’s been positive for the student-athletes who have decided to take advantage of the additional year, and it’s been positive for our coaches because they have been able to keep some seniority and continuity within their teams as they try to navigate to a new normal.”