Season Sidelined: Scholarship limits, roster sizes could affect extra year of eligibility

“In theory” and “in practice” begin on the same road, yet often wind up at the same destination. The Maryland women’s lacrosse team learned in March that there would be no May when the NCAA canceled the 2020 season.

For the seniors on this year’s roster, it was an unfortunate end to careers that had known nothing but being busy Memorial Day weekend (two national championships in three years). Maybe.

The NCAA stepped in, offering an extra year of eligibility for spring sports athletes who saw things end in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

And while that’s a very nice thing to do, many of the student athletes in question were already moving toward the next phase of their lives.

“It’s tough. Kids are a month away from graduation, some have applied for jobs and are looking at what’s ahead for them,” Terps coach Cathy Reese said.

“It is a tough time for these seniors to be faced with that (choice).”

There’s only one senior on the Maryland roster taking advantage of the waiver: attacker Brindi Griffin, who led the Terps with 15 goals in 2020.

One other senior is returning for a fifth season, but it’s via a redshirt year as two-time All-Big Ten defender Lizzie Colson is recovering from an injured ACL torn last summer.

Reese isn’t surprised that most of her players are moving on.

“I would anticipate that’s probably how it is nationwide, you’re not going to see everybody come back to programs just because (they can). Life has thrown different things at them — whether it’s job opportunities, graduate school, financial situations, whatever it may be.”

Even if they had lost Griffin to graduation, the Terps would have been well-stocked for 2021.

Freshman Libby May’s 10 goals were tied for third on the team, freshman Emma Schettig paced the team in ground balls and draw controls and sophomore goalie Maddie McSally emerged as the starter between the pipes.

Thanks to the NCAA, their eligibility window has increased from four to five, creating an unintentional possible ripple effect.

“The interesting thing will be to see how it affects teams down the road. Because anybody that plays this year was given another year of eligibility,” Reese said.

While an extra year of eligibility was granted, scholarship and roster limits did not change in the respective sports.

Women’s Division I Lacrosse programs have 12 scholarships to spread between up to 30 student athletes on their rosters.

With many incoming freshmen for this fall signing National Letters of Intent in November 2019, a vast majority of anticipated available scholarship money and roster spots were already accounted for.

“For a team like mine, that’s 30 other people who could have the choice to stay an extra year,” Reese said.

Because while the desire to play college lacrosse cannot be measured, roster sizes and scholarship money most certainly can.

“And so we’ll have to see how that plays out, again for my team but also nationwide because that’s going to affect roster sizes too.”

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