The National Junior College Athletic Association board of regents approved a blanket waiver on Thursday for all sports in the 2020-21 season, meaning athletes at 512 member institutions in 45 states will not lose a year of eligibility regardless of their levels of participation this year.
The NCAA, which has also issued a waiver for competition this season, will not automatically apply the NJCAA's decision for transfer students, and will require NCAA schools to submit a waiver or extension request for review based on each athlete's specific situation. But it's likely the NJCAA's waiver will be considered in the process.
The junior college organization's ruling potentially means that freshmen could play this spring and still enter a four-year school with four years of eligibility. Likewise, junior college athletes would be eligible to return for a third season.
In July, the NJCAA voted to move its football season back to the spring. Practice will begin on March 1, 2021, with games beginning on March 25. Teams will play between six and eight games, with play wrapping up by May 15 and the NJCAA championship and bowl games beginning on June 3.
The NJCAA also allowed schools up to 60 consecutive days of practice or scrimmage time this fall.
Many junior college basketball teams have already begun practice for a shortened season that begins on Jan. 2. Teams are permitted to play up to 22 games in the spring, with the championship tournaments ending on April 24.