(ANDREW VILLA/ISI PHOTOS)

The NCAA announced last week that it was providing eligibility relief to all spring-sport student athletes whose seasons were cut short by the coronavirus pandemic. And while the NCAA will allow universities to temporarily exceed their scholarship limit to account for returning players and incoming freshmen, it’s been left to the individual universities to decide how much financial aid they give out to players who come back. Just Women’s Sports spoke with three senior athletes who now have to decide if they’ll return for a final year do-over. 

What are your thoughts on the NCAA approving an extra year of eligibility?

“I think it’s great that the NCAA has granted an extra year of eligibility because athletes had put a lot of hard work into their 2020 seasons, and it was heartbreaking for them to not be able to compete. I think many people don’t understand the amount of work that goes into a full season of training. We have been training every day (and sometimes twice a day) since September, preparing for the moment when we get to step on the field in the spring and compete for a conference and NCAA championship. I am glad that spring-sport athletes get another chance to finish what they started.” — Genesis Lucero, Stanford Lacrosse

“I had kind of expected the NCAA to grant us another year before the decision was officially made. I mean, we were so early into our season when everything was canceled that it almost felt necessary for spring-sport athletes to get that year back. Ultimately, I’m very grateful the NCAA felt that same way and has decided to do what’s best for student athletes.” — Hope Anhut, USC Lacrosse 

“It was definitely a hard decision for the NCAA to make, but at the end of the day, I think it’s what’s best for the students. Not being able to end your career the way you had always hoped, especially after years in the making, was really hard for seniors to grapple with in the midst of an already horrific pandemic. So just allowing athletes another year to play the sport that they love, at least for me, has given me hope and something to work towards in this horrible time. It is a silver lining, if you will.” — Kyra Pelton, Stanford Lacrosse

Do you plan to take advantage of the extra year?

“I do plan to come back to Stanford to play my final season while pursuing a master’s degree. It was an easy decision for me, especially since I feel like I have some unfinished business on the field.” — Genesis Lucero

“I would absolutely love to return to USC for another year, but I have a job lined up for after graduation. I’m hoping that my company will be flexible and grant me the ability to join them a year late, but if not I’ll have to weigh both options and decide which is best for my future.” — Hope Anhut

“For me, I was already planning on staying in school for a master’s program in mechanical engineering with a product design concentration. I already applied to grad schools and was accepted at Stanford and a few other schools. I definitely want to remain at Stanford to complete my fifth year, but it will all come down to scholarship details. I hope it works out. I would love one last go around to show what Stanford lacrosse is really made of.” — Kyra Pelton

What are you hearing from your teammates in terms of their plans?

“In talking through the next steps with my teammates, the biggest concern is whether or not Stanford will honor our scholarships for a fifth-year. The NCAA has provided eligibility, which is half the battle. The other half is decided by the individual schools. For my teammates hoping to come back and play this next season, their decisions could be based on the financial aid that Stanford is willing to provide since the NCAA stated that the schools do not have to match the scholarships for these athletes coming back to play. I truly hope that Stanford will make the right decision for their spring programs.” — Genesis Lucero

“The thoughts of my teammates have been varied. I think there’s this mentality for your entire senior year that this is the last go around and you grow accustomed to that reality — some girls might be fine with that regardless of how the season went and want to move on. Others might want to take the year to explore a new school, and we obviously fully support them in that as well. And finally there are some of us that are sure about returning to USC or who are definitely considering it. We’re all just kind of waiting for more information to be available regarding academics, scholarships, and how next year will go. Until then, we won’t be able to make definitive choices.” — Hope Anhut

“About 50% of our senior class is committed to the idea of returning to Stanford next season. That being said, nothing is definitive yet. We are all waiting to hear what Stanford has to say about scholarships, as the discretion of individual scholarships is up to them. The financial side of things is still up in the air for a lot of players. Because unlike fall sports, where a fifth-year means only paying for one semester or quarter of school, playing out another season for a spring sport means committing to another full year of tuition. And Stanford is one of the most expensive schools in the country. So at the end of the day, everyone’s individual decision will probably come down to the kind of scholarship options we get.” — Kyra Pelton