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Senior guard Lucas Monroe will be playing his final season of eligibility at Drexel University. 

Credit: Anna Vazhaeparambil

Thanks to an Ivy League rule preventing student athletes from using graduate eligibility to play a fifth year of their respective sport — something many have taken advantage of across the country with the NCAA granting an additional year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic — Penn athletes must look elsewhere to finish out their collegiate careers.  

Just recently, women’s basketball senior forward Jordan Obi announced her transfer to Kentucky to play out her graduate year, as well as track and field senior pole vaulter Scott Toney who is heading to Washington for his final season. 

Every athlete experiences this reality differently. Some are excited to experience a new opportunity and would have liked to transfer regardless, others are required to make a decision that they otherwise would not have made, and then there are some who fall somewhere in the middle. 

“In retrospect, I can say that I’m fortunate to get to experience playing on a top 10 team in the country and playing in some cool atmospheres, but I loved my time at Penn and I think that I’m almost fortunate that I was forced to not have to make that tough decision,” Duke baseball first baseman Ben Miller said. 

Miller’s connection to Duke was there from the start. A Durham kid through and through, Miller had hoped to play for the Blue Devils coming out of high school. While that didn’t work out for him, his dream was fulfilled four years later as he decided to head back home after winning the inaugural Ivy League Title in 2023. 

In another edition of the hometown hero story, UCLA women’s soccer defender Emily Pringle knew she wanted to be back in California for the next chapter of her life. However, she didn’t initially know that soccer was going to be a part of that plan.

Originally from Los Angeles before going to high school in San Diego, Pringle applied and got into UCLA’s Transformative Coaching and Leadership program in the School of Education & Information Studies, but did not have a roster spot on the team heading into the year. 

“I reached out to the coaches because UCLA is one of the best women’s soccer programs in the country, if not the best, and I also wanted to be back in California,” Pringle said. “It kind of just fell into place. I really love the coaching staff, the team, the location, and obviously the education is really great too, so it was kind of a no-brainer once it all fell into place.”

While Pringle loved her time at Penn and reflected fondly on all of the relationships she formed with her teammates and coaches, she felt that she was ready for the new challenges that come with taking advantage of a new opportunity. 

“I think I was ready to try something new and see what more I could get out of soccer in college, and I think UCLA really pushed me to be a better soccer player and a better person too,” Pringle said. 

Entering the basketball arena, Drexel forward Lucas Monroe played three seasons at Penn — missing his fourth due to COVID-19 — before embarking on the long journey across the street to play for the Dragons. 

“The three boxes I wanted to check off were staying in a good conference, going somewhere where I'd be able to play and be a contributing player, and going somewhere where I had a chance to win the conference and make it to the tournament,” Monroe said. 

Having been enrolled in an online program at Drexel for the year, Monroe’s only real involvement at the school was playing basketball — a stark contrast to his experience at Penn. 

“I think I appreciated more once I left Penn that, for better or worse, the Ivy League experience is unique in that you’re able to branch out and really be a student-athlete,” Monroe said. “Being able to have your summers and not have mandatory workouts during the summer and things like that, you’re able to do more things outside of your sport.”

Monroe said he enjoyed his lone season at Drexel; being able to get his MBA in sports management for free while doing so was certainly an added bonus. However, he still holds firmly that he would have stayed with the Quakers if given the opportunity.

“I absolutely would have stayed if I was able to. It’s one of the many ancient rules that the Ivy League has, and the way things are going now, they really need to change stuff around and fix things,” Monroe said. “With the NIL stuff and everything else going on, not allowing players to stay for a fifth year is one of many things that is crippling the conference.”