The California Community College Athletic Association Board of Directors announced that they will waive student-athletes’ eligibility for the 2020-2021 season.
In their meeting on Nov. 6, they approved Option 1 of the contingency plan from July which included a waiver that stated players would not have to worry about a year of eligibility being used.
Interim head football coach Anthony Harris said in a phone interview that it was crucial for them not to count this year as a season of competition.
“If the CCCAA had not approved this waiver, a lot of my players probably would not have played this year because it would not have made sense for them to waste a year of eligibility on what could end up being a five to seven game season,” Harris said.
For 2021, teams had their upcoming schedules reduced by 30 percent and for coaches and players, being able to play any games is a step in the right direction.
Harris talked about the importance of his players being able to get back on the field while retaining a year of eligibility.
“This shortened season will be beneficial because it will get players back into game like situations, allow them to hone their skills, give them the opportunity to be competitive against other teams and also gather film for potential recruiting,” Harris said.
Interim Athletic Director Susan Armenta wrote in an email that student-athletes are positively impacted by this decision.
“I think having the additional year of eligibility is positive for anyone. It’s great to have the chance to prepare and build up conditioning to play this spring without any consequence and then have another season again when conditions are better,” Armenta wrote.
Armenta wrote that students transferring to a four-year will have to adjust and if they decide to stay, it is still uncertain whether NCAA will honor the eligibility changes.
She said if they have limited practice schedules, the focus should be on not winning titles but returning to fitness safely.
“Yes, it will be great to compete, but the way things have been going in LA County, we need to be grateful for the opportunity to play at all,” Armenta wrote.
Armenta wrote that the Board is going to establish an opt-in/opt-out system for institutions to decide whether they compete based on county guidelines. She said the district will have the final say whether they have the capacity to implement protocols to get back on campus.
Men’s head basketball coach Charles White said in a phone interview that both incoming and returning players benefit from this season, not counting against their eligibility.
“With the incoming guys being able to have the time now to learn team plays, official game rules, and how to be good teammates from the returners who know how things are done, it makes the coaching staff’s job that much easier,” White said. “For the returning players it gives them more opportunities to better their skills to be noticed by coaches at the next level.”
The upcoming season will not have a state championship title for teams to play for, but for White that has never been the main goal for coaching his players.
“I told the guys that as much as I’m a winner and love to win games, my main goal is to get you guys the opportunity to play at a four-year university and get your academics paid for,” White said.
Community college athletes have been working hard this year for a chance to play at the next level.
Wide receiver and captain, Robert Terry, is grateful that he has had this extra time to develop his skills to show off his hard work once the shortened season begins.
“When I get to step back on that field, I know because there are less chances now with less games that in order to earn a Division One scholarship that I have been working so hard for I have to show what kind of all around better player I have made myself since the last time I played,” Terry said in a phone interview. “I have to dominate every play with a dog mentality, its eat or be eaten.”