Power 5 seeks athlete eligibility, other help

Student-athlete leaders from the Power 5 conferences are seeking an extra year of eligibility for college athletes who didn't complete their seasons, as well as support for housing and food, as the NCAA Division I Council plans to vote Monday on eligibility relief in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

In a joint statement, Power 5 representatives of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee outlined three recommendations for the council, beginning with "immediate support for housing and food." The group cites the Student Assistance Fund, set up to help college athletes dealing with unexpected struggles. Most major college campuses are closed, and athletes either returned home or remained in off-campus housing.

"If the NCAA merely focuses on eligibility relief and does not aid those who are unsafe and unable to pay for food and shelter, then we have already failed our peers as collegiate athlete leaders," read the statement, signed by 60 student-athlete leaders from the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC.

The group also recommends that the Division I Council grant eligibility relief to all athletes participating in spring sports, as well as those in winter sports who qualified for the postseason but could not compete. The NCAA on March 12 canceled all remaining winter sports championships, including the men's and women's basketball tournaments, as well as all spring sports championships. The Division I Council Coordination Committee announced March 13 that it supported eligibility relief for all athletes in spring sports.

The Power 5 SAAC representatives also recommend scholarship renewals for seniors, which would not count against team limits. The group noted that many seniors could not return without remaining on scholarship.

"Now, more than ever, it is imperative for our college athlete community to unify and support each other by standing up for what accurately represents the unified voice of college athletes," the statement reads.