It was rumored a couple of days ago, but today the NCAA made it official by announcing that “all fall sport student-athletes will receive both an additional year of eligibility and an additional year in which to complete it”
Basically, what this means is that even if Penn State plays college football in the spring, it won’t be counted toward an athlete’s eligibility clock.
Seniors Will Fries and Tariq Castro-Fields play in the spring, but then decide they love Happy Valley so much they don’t want to leave? Perfect! Because each player would be allowed to come back in 2021.
This also has a ripple down effect through the rest of the roster. For example, Sean Clifford would now be allowed to stay until the 2022 season. Previously, his eligibility would have ran out after 2021.
Reminder: this won’t impact when a player is eligible for the NFL Draft. That is based on when the player graduated high school — so someone like Noah Cain can still leave early for the 2022 NFL Draft despite only being a “sophomore.”
Where this really makes things wonky is with the 2020 and 2021 recruiting class.
Think of the eligibility ruling this way.— Ralph D. Russo (@ralphDrussoAP) August 21, 2020
At the start of 2021, college football teams will have two full freshmen classes as far as eligibility is concerned. This year's and next year's.
That’s a whole lot of true freshmen — though again — those 2020 kids can still leave after their sophomore seasons.
We’ll have more on how this impacts Penn State in the coming days, but for now: this is weird. Good. But weird.