ORONO – The season is gone, but college spring sports careers have been granted a life line.
“There’s going to be some remarkable stories that are going to come out of these fifth year seniors that are finally get a chance to showcase what they can do,” University of Maine Director of Athletics, Ken Ralph, said.
Monday the NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility to spring sports athletes after COVID-19 wiped out the spring season.
But it comes with a catch.
“I can’t look at our coaches and say we’re going to be able to expand your scholarship budget to accommodate these students if you can make it work with what you have already in your budget go ahead, but there will be no new money coming forward,” Ralph said.
The NCAA has left finances up to individual school’s, which would pose a problem for Maine, right? Being that it’s a mid-major with limited resources.
Ralph says his teams scholarship wise will be just fine. Baseball head coach Nick Derba has already said his incoming freshman class for ’20-’21 is set to come to Orono in full. In addition, he’ll be able to have spots on the team for seniors if they wish to come back for their extra year of eligibility.
“We’re not a school that also has tennis or has lacrosse or has a whole big offering and our softball team has no seniors so they’re aren’t even impacted by this and all of our track athletes who are potentially eligible for this are on pace to graduate,” Ralph added.
Scholarships aside, there is another potential issue. With the extra athletes you take in, it stretches resources elsewhere. Academic support has to help more athletes with school work and strength and conditioning and sports medicine have to tend to more players which means more injuries.
But, Maine says it will be able to take on those responsibilities thanks to good academic standing among its students and versatility among its athletic staff.
“The sports medicine professional assigned to baseball is also their strength and conditioning coach and absorbing a couple of extra athletes there is not difficult and the way track and field works out by different workout groups we can spread that out much easier than you could with a team sport,” Ralph said.
As the sports world stands still UMaine isn’t sitting by waiting for someone to make their move.
“We’re going to head the other way we really see this as an opportunity to better position our programs and to better position this university moving forward,” he added.