Senior athletes find another chance to compete in their final season

UB track and field athletes discuss the NCAA Rule granting them another season

92272546_798868983935364_3016525402232324096_n

Rachel Barich couldn’t wait for her final season at UB.

The senior distance runner was ready to show what her lifetime of work had built up to. She was ready for her moment in the spotlight.

But the NCAA cancelled all spring-sport seasons on March 12 due to the COVID-19 outbreak, leaving senior athletes without their senior seasons.

“I was at work that day when I found out and I remember sitting in my car and just bawling my eyes out,” Barich said. 

The news was a crushing blow to senior athletes who wanted to finish their athletic careers on a high note. It left them wondering what was next for them.

But, on March 30th, the NCAA voted to allow Division-I schools to give spring-sport student athletes another season of eligibility. This gave many senior athletes across the country another chance to play their final season. UB’s senior track and field athletes were excited to hear the news, as they still had final races left in them.

“We’ve been kind of waiting for that statement to come out for a while,” Barich said. “It’s something that I’ve actually been considering before it officially got passed. I’m obviously ecstatic that it has finally went through.”

Sill, the news leaves senior athletes with a decision to make regarding their future. Many student-athletes have to think about career paths and the ruling has made their decisions more difficult. 

“If I [returned for her senior season], then it would be putting my other things in life on hold,” said senior pole vaulter Hannah Roof regarding her future. “We have to make big decisions, our future means so much.”

The ruling also leaves a lot into question, including scholarships, financials and classes. But seniors said they were still glad for the announced second chance.

“I think it's awesome that they are giving people that option,” Roof said. “A lot of people are devastated and this was a great move.”

For many like Barich, getting the news that their season was initially cancelled was really difficult to comprehend.

Caleb Covell, a senior distance runner, said even when his teammates knew of the outbreak earlier in the year, nobody expected it to be as impactful as it is today.

“Early January and February we were still going through the motions, we really didn’t think a whole lot of it,” Covell said. “But then businesses started to cancel and we were like, ‘Oh this actually might be reality.’ When we saw the Ivy League cancelled, we were like ‘that’s us next.’”

When he heard the news, Covell said he only felt one emotion. 

“Just denial actually. It’s just like the first stage of extending something harsh, it’s just denial,” he said. “I was sitting there and I was just like ‘there’s no way this actually happened.’”

Still, this has been a major decision for those moving on with non-athletic careers after college.

While some are hesitant to make a decision, Barich already said that she’s coming back to finish her athletic career UB if she can.

“I would 100% if it ends up working out financially, academically, [for] my athletics I will 100% come back.”

The NCAA and UB have a lot of work to do when it comes to figuring out the financials of the situation but the end result of this rule, students say, can be very promising.

“It is definitely a relief to have that on paper,” Barich said. “Now that they finally have figured it out for Division I, it'll be interesting to see what they do.”

Anthony DeCicco is the assistant sports editor and can be reached at anthony.decicco@ubspectrum.com