McNeese State's Sha'markus Kennedy dunks against University of New Orleans at McNeese H&HP Complex in Lake Charles, Louisiana on Saturday, February 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Lake Charles American Press, Kirk Meche)

What goes up, must come down. If there's good news, bad news can be almost certain to follow.

At least in some cases.

This week, in response to the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic that prompted the NCAA to cancel the Division I winter championships and the spring sports seasons and championships, the Division I Council voted to grant all spring athletes another year of eligibility.

The decision has been mostly hailed as the right one, and I agree too. But lost among the good feelings are tough and cold-hearted situations that Division I players and coaches are going to experience over the coming weeks and months.

First, we have to acknowledge that the NCAA's ruling puts the onus on individual schools and athletic departments to come up with the money for financial aid if a senior decides to return for the extra season. That could lead some schools that were already financially struggling before the COVID-19 outbreak to tell some of those kids who wish to come back for one more season that the school can't afford it.

And for the seniors who do decide to come back for their extra season, the NCAA's decision makes it clear that the school and program that they are on are not obligated to give them the same amount of athletic financial aid that they received for the 2019-20 school year.

Those athletes can't get more of that aid, but they can receive less. What a way to treat these seniors, who had their season cruelly cut short, by telling them that they may have their scholarships cut in half, or even more, if they decide to return.

So all across the country, coaches are going to call players into their offices to have a potentially life-changing conversation. What if the coach decides to partially or completely pull a student-athletes' athletic financial aid? All of a sudden, that player isn't as valuable to the team as he or she was last year? That could mean the difference in the athlete staying for the year or moving on to the next phase of life.

The NCAA also decided not to grant winter sports athletes another year of eligibility. I agree with this decision, for the most part. All of the regular seasons in the winter sports (i.e. basketball, hockey, indoor track and field, and wrestling) had concluded and they were all in postseason play. Those sports were too far along in their seasons. Combine that with some teams having already completed their conference tournaments while some hadn't even started before the championships were canceled.

As awesome as it would have been for McNeese men's head basketball coach Heath Schroyer hear that Sha'markus Kennedy and Roydell Brown were eligible to return for one more season, that wouldn't have been fair because the Cowboys' season ended in the first round of the Southland Conference Tournament at the hands of Lamar.

But, just because I agree with most of the NCAA's ruling, doesn't mean it isn't gutting to miss out on March Madness. And I know if I'm missing it as a journalist, the players and coaches who devote their lives to it have to be devastated that it's not coming back this season.

We were deprived the chance of seeing if a strong mid-major like Dayton or San Diego State could win the men's championship. On the women's side, Oregon's Sabrina Ionescu returned to college because she wanted to capture the elusive national championship. Now she'll never even be able to say that she got the chance.

Another decision that will have a major effect on college sports for the next two months is the NCAA's decision to extend the recruiting dead period to May 31. Initially the dead period was supposed to end on April 14 and the spring evaluation period was to go from April 15-May 31. But with the dead period being extended, that means coaches can't visit schools for practices, and prospects can't make visits — official or unofficial — until June 1 at the earliest.

Right now, most schools are not on campus, so visits would be impossible anyway. But most college football programs have spring practice in March and April before using May to visit high schools programs, which usually start spring practice in late April and go through most of May.

The Division I basketball regular signing period runs from April 15-May 20. Unless prospects got their visits in prior to schools being shut down, if they choose to sign with a school, it will be sight unseen.

That will be tough and could lead to a few transfers if kids don't like where they signed.

All in all, the problems I mentioned are fairly benign when compared to the issues going on in the world right now. But from a collegiate sports perspective, these are tough things that athletic departments, players, coaches and others will have to deal with.


David Berry covers McNeese State athletics. Email him at dberry@americanpress.com

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