No additional eligibility for winter athletes 'a hard moment,' but Illini HC Brad Underwood says he 'totally understands'
College basketball players saw their seasons come to an abrupt end in March, as the NCAA made the tough decision to cancel March Madness and end the season a few days before Selection Sunday with the concerns of COVID-19 growing.
For seniors, this was their final season. No NCAA or NIT Tournament to experience at the conclusion of the 2019-20 season. And, on Monday, the organization delivered another tough blow to winter-sport athletes, saying they will not receive an additional year of eligibility.
A lot of careers came to an end in heartbreaking fashion.
Illinois head coach Brad Underwood helped lead the Illini to an incredible turnaround season, after finishing below the .500 mark in 2018-19. His squad finished 21-10 and were headed for the NCAA Tournament until the association made its decision.
Tuesday, Underwood talked briefly about the organization’s decision to not allow an additional year of eligibility for seniors — a decision he says he understands.
“As sympathetic as you are for seniors who didn’t get to experience the postseason, we played our season,” Underwood said, according to Jeremy Werner of Illini Inquirer. “It’s a teaching moment. It’s a tough moment. It’s hard. But I get it and totally understand it.”
With only tournament play remaining in the winter sports, it didn’t make much sense for the NCAA to approve the additional year of eligibility. The association will allow spring-sport athletes to have one more season of eligibility, however.
Still, it’s an incredibly tough way for a season, and a career, to come to an end.