Current senior athletes at Ivy League institutions, who have lost their seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will be permitted to compete for their respective schools next year as full-time graduate students.
This is a reversal of an announcement made on Apr. 2, 2020, in which the Ivy League presidents remained firm on their long-standing policy barring graduate students from varsity athletic competition.
Harvard Athletics Director Erin McDermott announced today in an email that senior Ivy League athletes would be granted an extra year of eligibility as graduate students for the 2021-22 academic year, the Harvard Crimson reported.
Multiple sources confirm that Penn senior athletes received a similar email from Athletics Director M. Grace Calhoun outlining the temporary policy change.
As of now, this exception only applies to current seniors whose seasons were suspended by the pandemic. McDermott also stated that to qualify, students must be admitted as graduate students to degree-seeking programs through “regular channels.”
Prior to this decision, the only way Ivy League athletes could use their fifth year of eligibility without transferring would be by delaying their graduation.
Last week, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee presidents from each Ancient Eight school circulated a survey meant to gauge student-athletes' opinions on graduate school eligibility, per the request of Ivy League policy members and athletic directors.
Although the fate of the Ivy League’s upcoming spring season is still undetermined, this news comes after Yale men’s lacrosse reportedly opted out of any potential spring competition due to an insufficient number of athletes enrolled. At Princeton, 19 members of the women's lacrosse team took leave for the remainder of the year amid COVID-19 uncertainty.
The decision comes at a time in which many Penn athletes have already entered the transfer portal, or even enrolled at other institutions as graduate students.
The Ivy League and Penn Athletics have yet to release a public statement on this change in policy. This temporary rule change may be a precursor to an expected announcement regarding the fate of the spring athletic season.