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Penn State Will Honor NCAA Waiver for Returning Senior Athletes, Expects Costs Around $700,000

by on April 10, 2020 1:50 PM

Penn State Director of Athletics said on Saturday that she expects the costs of returning seniors to reach roughly $700,000. 

“That decision was an easy one,” Barbour said. “There was never really any question.”

---Original report

Penn State Athletics reiterated that it will allow all senior spring sport athletes to return under the NCAA's recently created COVID-19 waiver following an announcement by the University of Wisconsin that it will not allow its senior athletes to do so.

"We are committed to honoring the scholarships of our senior student-athletes who choose to return," a Penn State spokesperson told

The news is somewhat self-evident following announcements by several senior men's lacrosse players who are opting to return for an additional year. The NCAA's blanket cancelation of spring sports ultimately resulted in a waiver which allows all seniors who would have seen their eligibility expire following the season return for an additional year of play.

Athletes who would not have seen their eligibility expired have been granted an additional year of eligibility at the end of their careers to make up for a lost season of competition.

No such rulings were made for winter sport athletes whose seasons had largely concluded or were in the early stages of postseason play.

The fine print: the NCAA is not requiring schools to match the financial aid a returning senior student-athlete would have received this year. In essence, players can opt to return, but may be granted substantially less aid. Any athlete who was not set to graduate is guaranteed to receive all financial aid he or she was scheduled to have been previously provided.

In the eyes of many athletic departments, most recently Wisconsin's, the additional financial burden of an unexpected influx of student athletes might be deemed too large, especially as schools grapple with an uncertain future as it pertains to the COVID-19 pandemic and the potential for a delayed or canceled fall sports season, including the economic boom of college football.

"That creates a lot of problems," Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez told WIBA-AM relative to returning players who otherwise would have graduated. "It's more complicated than that as far as numbers. You've got another group coming in, etc.. You've got a group of freshmen coming in. Do you want this group coming back? How does that [impact] roster size? There's a financial burden that goes along with that."

Asked to clarify if Penn State would honor previous financial aid commitments or offer reduced aid, a spokesperson repeated the university's initial statement.

Many spring sports operate under a total scholarship limit set by the NCAA, offering their student athletes partial scholarships. Additionally the value of a student athlete's cost of attendance stipend is relative to the percentage of the full scholarship he or she receives.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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