UMass AD Ryan Bamford vows to battle for extra eligibility for spring sports athletes 

  • Jeff Trainor of UMass, right, scores against LIU in the fourth quarter, Tuesday at Garber Field in Amherst. STAFF FILE PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 3/13/2020 9:55:26 PM

UMass athletics director Ryan Bamford wasted no time in supporting his spring student-athletes.

In the minutes after the NCAA canceled its spring sports championships Thursday afternoon due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Bamford tweeted, “no one likes things they can’t control & these decisions are gut-wrenching. To our spring sport seniors: in time, we will fight to reinstate your final year of eligibility.” On Friday morning, Bamford joined a 92.9 FM in Atlanta to elaborate on how additional eligibility would work for spring student-athletes.

“For the most part, if they are scholarship student-athlete, you’ve already provided or plan to provide that financial aid to the next class,”Bamford told John Fricke and Hugh Douglas of The Morning Show with John and Hugh. “For the most part, a lot of that money is spoken for going into 2020-2021 (season), so we’d have to figure out as an NCAA body,  if we were able to reinstate these young people, the roster limits would have to change and the scholarship limits would probably have to move in order to do this.”

Bamford said after he sent out his initial tweet Thursday, he received many texts from athletics directors around the country agreeing with the need to fight for the extra eligibility. However, there is still plenty of logistical hurdles for the NCAA to overcome once they start talking about this issue in the coming weeks and months.

“The concept, people are in agreement on the concept, the public certainly is, but the mechanics of it are really tough,” Bamford said. “We’re going to have to work through it. There’s going to have to be a blanket legislative relief waiver that goes into effect and there’s a lot of people out there who are a lot smarter than I am, and we will work together to figure out what’s the best scenario for us moving forward to support these young people and not have them lose a quarter of their eligibility because of something they couldn’t control.”

The other big issue Bamford laid out is how these conversations would affect the senior class, many of whom already have the next year of their life planned out to some extent. Most of the seniors are in line to still graduate in May, so some of them have jobs while others have already been accepted to graduate school. Any additional eligibility granted to them would force those people to make a decision about whether it was better to delay their post-athletic life or forgo that final year of eligibility.

Those decisions would then impact the coaching staff, which now has to juggle scholarship limits for the next few years by gaining an extra year from the four recruiting classes already enrolled. Bamford said he wants to make sure any legislation would also help the current underclassmen get a fifth year tacked on at the end of their eligibility – like a medical waiver or redshirt season – and that would mean the impact would linger into future recruiting cycles.

“It’s a lasting effect because it’s not just one class we’re doing it for,” Bamford said, “I’d fight to do it for all classes that were here because I don’t want any of those student-athletes who really haven’t had a chance to compete this spring to lose a year of eligibility.”

The decisions Thursday to cancel the rest of the NCAA championships in the academic year essentially ended a chaotic week for the college sports community. On Monday, the conference basketball tournaments were seemingly a go as scheduled. Within 48 hours, fans were restricted from the arenas, but most conferences never even got to play games in empty arenas before the decision to cancel it all.

Bamford joked on Twitter that this week would take up two or three chapters of his future memoir with the fluidity of the situation. He said it was a situation no one could be prepared to handle and every decision made was carefully discussed and felt they were in the best interest of everyone involved.

“This week has been something that you just couldn’t script,” Bamford said. “They don’t put a chapter in the AD manual that you pull out of your desk and say this is how I deal with a week like this week. Every hour felt like a year, to be honest, and it was hard because you’re making decisions that are going to impact so many people and you want to make the right ones globally. At the forefront of everything we think about is how we serve our students. Ultimately, you want to make decisions for their academic benefit first and foremost then obviously how it’s going to impact them from a competitive standpoint.”


Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Greenfield Recorder, keeping Franklin County informed since 1792.

Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261


Copyright © 2021 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy