NCAA: One more year for senior athletes

THE NCAA has relaxed its age eligibility rules for student-athletes whose Season 95 events were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I endorsed loosening up the eligibility requirements for Season 96, and it was approved by the Policy Board,” said Season 95 Management Committee chairman Peter Cayco of Arellano University during Tuesday's online Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum.

“Athletes who would’ve played their final years in Season 95, but their tournaments did not get off the ground, will be allowed to participate for one more year. Same ‘yun sa mga events na ‘di nalaro or have not yet started, plus one year sila.”

Among those women's volleyball standouts who were affected by the termination of Season 95 were San Beda’s Nieza and Ella Viray and Daryl Racraquin, Letran’s Charm Simborio, University of Perpetual Help System Dalta’s Yanca Tripoli and Arellano’s Regine Arocha.

If they chose to come back to return for some "unfinished business", they will be the ones who will benefit from this eligibility rule specially made for Season 96.

Other second semester sports that were stopped or had failed to push through were football, lawn tennis, soft tennis, track and field, under-15 basketball, beach volleyball and cheerleading.

The NCAA is also planning to give a helping hand to those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Season 96 Management Commmittee chairman Fr. Vic Calvo of Letran said that those displaced student-athletes, coaches and league officials - particularly those who work on gameday basis - will receive financial support from the league.

For the affected players, the NCAA will also lend its hand on the academic part.

“Upon our survey, there are about fifty-percent displaced players, coaches, and officials, and that includes the referees in all events, securities, table officials, and others na involved sa NCAA,” said Calvo in the weekly Forum powered by Smart and presented by San Miguel Corp., Go For Gold Philippines, Amelie Hotel, Braska Restaurant, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).

"We’re sure to help our players, coaches, and officials na kasama natin sa NCAA. We know na pagdating sa budget ng schools, we depend sa enrollment, so a few also means few income and limited budget distributed, and kapag nabawasan, ang unang victim is sports.”

Letran, Perpetual Help, Lyceum of the Philippines University and College of Saint Benilde were among the NCAA member schools which have been hit hard by the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

Some of the schools have slashed their budget for athletics in order to make way for turning digital for the coming school year, while some have completely cut the athletics’ fees entirely since there will be no face-to-face classes.

The NCAA is plotting to start Season 96 in the first quarter of 2021 with only four mandatory sports, namely basketball, volleyball, athletics and swimming on the schedule.

With everything dependent on government's order for the resumption of sports activities, Calvo said that the league is doing the wait-and-see approach.

"We don't know what will happen from now until March 2021. Ang maganda naman, hindi tayo naka-fix but we're fluid. We're observing the situation and we'll fit that situtation para matuloy ang NCAA," said Calvo.

"Importante ang sports, pero mas importante ang buhay natin so we have to protect that at all costs," he added.