Ivy League rule exception evokes confusion, some hope in Yale athletes
New waiver will allow seniors an additional year of eligibility if they are accepted into a degree-granting graduate program, but some senior athletes wonder why the decision was announced after most graduate applications had passed.
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On Thursday, the Ivy League confirmed with the News that graduating senior student-athletes will now be permitted to compete as graduate students at their current Ivy institutions during the 2020-21 academic year, granted that they have been accepted into a degree-granting graduate program.
Upperclassmen athletes shared a range of emotions with the News in response to the change, yet one question appeared ubiquitous: Why was the decision announced after most graduate application deadlines had passed? According to the admissions page for Yale’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, deadlines for more than 50 University programs passed in either December or January.
“I think it’s a good thing that the Ivy League is reevaluating some of their rules due to COVID-19 and they’re trying to support the student athletes,” cross country runner Will Laird ’22 said. “From talking with other athletes at Yale, I think there is some confusion and disappointment with the timing of the announcement since most deadlines for grad school have passed … But all things considered, the rule still will allow more student athletes to participate in the Ivy League which is always good.”
When asked for comment on the timing of the policy change and the reasoning that led to the rule switch, Ivy League Associate Executive Director Matt Panto wrote in an email to the News that the Ancient Eight does not comment on the Council of Presidents’ discussions.
One athlete who is set to benefit from the waiver is women’s squash captain Aishwarya Bhattacharya ’21. Bhattacharya is enrolled in the bachelor’s/master’s of public health degree program, a five-year joint program between Yale College and the Yale School of Public Health. Prior to the announcement, Bhattacharya had accepted that next year she would have to cheer on the squash team from the sidelines.
Now, she has an opportunity to play one more season for the Blue and White.
“I am a little disappointed by the timing of this announcement, though,” Bhattacharya said. “I think that a number of athletes would have preferred to have known this earlier and a lot of deadlines have passed by now.”
The website for Yale’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences lists deadlines for more than 50 different programs in a variety of fields from applied physics to history, all of which have already passed in either December or January. The one exception was the Yale Law School application, which is reviewed on a rolling basis, although the last deadline was Feb. 15.
Former Yale baseball player and current Miami Hurricanes player Benny Wanger ’19 had much harsher words to say regarding the Ivy League’s new policy.
“It’s a weak move by the league — too little too late,” Wanger said. “It basically just confirms that there will not be an Ivy season this year.” Although spring competition has been delayed, the Ivy League has not yet ruled out the possibility of a spring season this year.
Wanger graduated from Yale in 2019 and then played as a graduate transfer student at USC in the shortened 2020 season. The two-way player took advantage of the NCAA’s ruling last March that gave spring-sport student-athletes an additional season of eligibility and used the graduate transfer portal again to play the 2021 baseball season at the University of Miami.
Unlike other NCAA conferences, the Ivy League typically does not allow graduate students to participate in athletic competition.
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