Additional eligibility brings uncertainties for student-athletes, coaches

The soccer coaching staff has been dealing with the uncertainty of student-athletes’ postseason. Men’s soccer coach Jonny Broadhead and women’s soccer coach Molly Rouse agree that their senior students are facing a tough decision after receiving the opportunity of an extra year to play. Graphic by Breanna Biorato.

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Collegiate athletes are facing the difficult decision between moving forward post college graduation and move into the work force or return to campus to compete collegiately with an additional year of eligibility granted by the NCAA.

Not only does this affect players and their future decisions, but this also has a major impact on the coaching staff and how they go about speaking with the seniors about their future plans.

“I wouldn’t expect them to have a final answer right now,” Men’s soccer coach Jonny Broadhead said.

Head coaches are not only looking at the individual player, they are also considering the needs of the team.

‘“I have to look at if the player [senior] could help us next year or if that player is on athletic aid; could I use that towards somebody coming in,” Broadhead said. “They may say yes if I talk to them today, and say they want to finish what they started, but come March or April if they get a job lined up.”

Men’s soccer has just two seniors on track to graduate on time and one junior ready to graduate after his third year in college. Women’s soccer has a total of six athletes who are faced with this difficult decision. The differences in numbers of players faced with this decision has changed the way coaches have navigated through these unprecedented times.

“We have loved the senior class and would be happy to bring back any and all of them,” DSU women’s soccer head coach Molly Rouse said.

Rouse is also understanding of the difficult decision these athletes are facing.

“Just knowing that the seniors are supported in which ever decision they end up choosing to do because I can see [the benefits] both of those options.”

With the many uncertainties the coronavirus has brought to this fall sports season, Rouse is certainly understanding of the pressure the athletes are facing.

“This is a different situation for the senior class that no other senior class has had to reflect on this option for them,” Rouse said. “A senior is hard because you are figuring out your life after school, but you are also super engaged in being a senior athlete at the same time.”

With the challenging decision these athletes are required to face, this also makes recruiting future classes somewhat difficult. As coaches weigh out the position these seniors have on the team, they need to recruit these positions to fill; however, with some of the seniors not knowing their decision come graduation, this poses difficulty for the coaching staff.

“It’s a dead period for the NCAA, so we can’t get out and see any of these kids play right now anyway,” football head coach Paul Peterson said. Peterson has plans made for many situations regarding his seniors. “If these guys were to leave, we are going to sign this [specific] class.”

As these student-athletes move forward desiring to earn a degree in the spring, Broadhead asked a question many of them may be asking themselves: “Is ball still life? Or does life need to move on?”