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Many senior athletes say the extra year of eligibility came too late in the process of decision making and now will not benefit them after graduation. Credit: Son Nguyen

The current senior class of student-athletes at Ivy League institutions will be allowed to compete for their respective schools next year as full-time graduate students after losing their seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This Feb. 11 decision is a reversal of the Ivy League's earlier announcement in April 2020, which had affirmed the league's commitment to its rule barring graduate students from athletic competition. 

This has come with mixed feelings from current seniors. For some, the new exception changes little, especially for those who didn't have any plans to go to graduate school or play another season. However, for others, it was a decision that came at an inconvenient time and impacted plans for next year. 

“I think the decision is a nice gesture, but I would be surprised if many people use it,” senior rower Anna Polise said.

The exception to the longstanding rule only applies to current seniors, and not to underclassmen athletes who missed the same amount of time in their sport. However, this decision came at an inopportune time for current seniors. It was announced late in the graduate school application process, as most priority deadlines were due on Dec. 15. 

“One particular frustration a lot of athletes and I share is that the announcement came after the due dates for most graduate program applications," Thomas Vasquez, a senior on the men’s heavyweight rowing team, said. "I was not thinking about applying [to grad school] because until only a few weeks ago I didn’t realize I would have the opportunity to compete.” 

“Personally, I wish they had announced the waiver earlier, so that I could have made an informed decision when applying to graduate schools,” Polise said.

Some perceive the temporary rule change as inconsistent, since last year's seniors, particularly those on spring teams, were not given the same opportunity. 

“As I understand it, the decision to give our particular class a year of eligibility was that we were deprived of the senior capstone experience, but I can’t say I agree with that line of reasoning,” Vasquez said. “Students are still doing senior designs and theses, and they didn’t extend the same opportunity to the Class of 2020, so all around it strikes me as too little too late and not at all consistent.”

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