“In our world, those are dollars we don’t have,” said Andy Fee, the athletic director at Long Beach State, warning that some colleges might drop certain sports. “I caution people that think they’re going to put Humpty Dumpty back together again that there are heavy conversations down the road. I think it’s going to be happening across the country.”
One conference in which athletes might not benefit is the Ivy League, which does not allow graduate students to play sports and has stringent requirements for granting redshirt years. The league said in a statement that it supported the N.C.A.A.’s proposal and that it was “considering the implications of the decision.”
At least one of the league’s senior athletes has already decided not to pursue an extra year. Molly Milligan, a rower at Princeton, plans to be a graduate assistant coach at the University of Wisconsin, where she will begin work on a master’s degree this fall.
“I thought about it for a hot second,” Milligan said of returning. “But the trauma of the past two weeks was really challenging to deal with. It’s hard now going back to change that mind-set to, ‘Oh, I might be able to compete.’”
For others, the calculation may be strictly financial.
Unlike many of their counterparts in football and basketball, spring athletes tend not to receive full scholarships. Baseball teams, for example, each have 11.7 scholarships that coaches can distribute among as many as 27 players, excluding walk-on roster spots. Softball has 12 scholarships to divide among a maximum of 25 players. Men’s volleyball has four and a half scholarships.
“There’s going to be some tough discussions,” Fee said. “A coach is going to say, ‘I appreciate what you did, but we don’t have a scholarship for you.’”
The toughest conversations, though, may be with incoming freshmen. They will suddenly be joining rosters more crowded than expected, delaying their chances to take over positions.