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SLATE: NCAA grants extra year of eligibility to spring athletes

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Schools will be given some financial freedom to potentially not give out as much in scholarships to seniors with an extra year of eligibility, plus you can learn a little bit about me if you’d like.

Lauren Taubert is now the NCAA heptathlon leader.
Two-time All-American and reigning Big 12 indoor pentathlon champion Lauren Taubert will be one of the seniors allowed to return for one more year of spring season eligibility.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Well, everybody else (more or less) has done it, so I guess my turn to do a “Meet the Staff” piece has finally arrived. This Slate is coming to you on Best Coast time because I live in Washington State, where the coronavirus began in America and arguably the state showing the most positive progress recently, so that’s something. However, the Washington you’re imagining is probably not the same as the Washington where I live, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

First, let’s go through some sports news.

NCAA

The NCAA actually made a compassionate, reasonable decision on Monday, voting to give all athletes in spring sports an extra year of eligibility for the season that was taken away from them due to COVID-19. Schools will be able to give student-athletes whose careers would have ended in 2020 financial aid at or below what they were previously receiving, giving schools some flexibility in how they dole out their scholarship money.

It’s worth noting the NCAA denied an extra year of eligibility to winter sports athletes, some of whom did not have a chance to complete their postseason. The NCAA is allowing schools to self-apply an extra year of eligibility to the five-year “clock” in which athletes must complete four seasons, which means redshirt seniors from 2020 are only eligible for 2021.

Baseball is the only spring sport with a roster limit, so that will increased. It should be interesting to see just how many athletes decide to utilize their extra year, and how many decide to forego that additional eligibility to “turn pro in something other than sports,” to paraphrase the NCAA.

In old friend news, Jim Wooldridge announced he is retiring in July after spending five years as the athletic director at Riverside Community College. Wooldridge was a head college basketball coach for 25 years and compiled a record of 582-539, including 83-90 from 2000-06 at Kansas State. More importantly, he is by all accounts an excellent, well-liked man who always followed the rules and looked out for the best interests of his student-athletes, so we wish him the best.

Football

Kansas State Online’s Matt Hall wrote a free article detailing the upcoming season, presuming there is an upcoming season, of course. Matt looks at some of the new recruits coming in and reminds us of the talented players coming back, notably Skylar Thompson, Josh Rivas, Wyatt Hubert and Malik Knowles.

Coronavirus relief

More than 115 athletes, coaches and other people associated with sports joined a raffle to raise money for coronavirus relief. Just a few of the items coming from all over the world are race-worn-shoes from Jimmie Johnson, an autographed Masters flag from Nick Faldo, a signed snowboard from Shaun White, a signed bat and ball from former Pakistani cricket star Wasim Akram and a signed tennis racquet from 20-year-old Brazilian Thiago Seyboth.

Items can be purchased for a minimum donation of $25 at athletesrelief.org through May 1. All proceeds will go to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy’s COVID-19 response fund. Seems like a pretty cool idea for a great cause, so check it out if you’re so inclined.

About the author

This week(ish), the Bring on the Cats staff will be telling you what they’re doing with all this free time they suddenly have (and, of course, providing any relevant news if there is any). You may not be interested in a given writer’s focus, and that’s okay! For those of you who are, however, maybe you’ll find something with which to occupy your own sudden and copious abundance of free time.

As noted above, I’m writing this from Washington, but not the liberal, metropolitan and rainy part of the state that’s most familiar to people. Rather, I live in a conservative central Washington town of about 90,000 called Yakima, where we get about 8 inches of rain per year in the valley and agriculture (75% of the country’s hops are produced here, so you’re welcome) drives the economy, as opposed to technology.

I’ve been here for almost three and a half years now working as the sports and outdoors reporter for the Yakima Herald-Republic, which is privately owned by the Seattle Times Company. When the world’s not shut down I spend most of my time covering high school sports with some occasional forays into outdoor recreation and other news, as well as coverage of Division II Central Washington and the local college summer baseball team.

As for now, I’ve mostly transitioned over to the news side, which wasn’t so hard considering my full-time journalism career actually began as a city council reporter for the Manhattan Mercury. In my one year of working there I felt like my income forced me to choose between purchasing cable (or any other TV options, though not many were available then) or K-State basketball season tickets, and that’s how I ended up at Bramlage for virtually all home games of the unforgettable 2009-10 season.

Since then I’ve bounced around to six other states but certainly hope to stay in the Pacific Northwest, where I enjoy skiing at White Pass, running and hiking wherever I can. At the moment, frequent trips 700 feet up to the top of the ridge a half mile from home are helping to keep me sane and I logged 60 miles biking over the weekend, including a 34-mile round trip to pick up crowlers from one of several local breweries still selling beer.

There was a time when I was actually a decent runner, but if I’m being honest those days are probably behind me, due in part to knee surgery from an indoor soccer injury four years ago. Speaking of soccer, I’m a huge enthusiast of the beautiful game (particularly Sporting KC and Chelsea) and even make some money refereeing youth soccer games on the weekends.

I got a reminder of how much my athleticism has deteriorated last year, when I decided it would be a good idea to challenge some of the area’s best athletes in various sports and put those videos on online. Although a disturbing lack of tennis talent provided me with one so-called victory, the series came to an abrupt halt when I attempted to cover an all-league wide receiver and ended up badly straining (tearing?) my hamstring.

That brings me to my question of the day, because apparently that’s a thing we’re doing as part of this: Aside from Kansas State, of course, what sports do you most enjoy playing/watching? If you’d like to share, what are your most impressive athletic accomplishments?

Oh, I almost forgot. If you didn’t know I already, I was accepted to attend Kansas State but decided instead to go to the University of Missouri for its prestigious journalism school. If it helps, I always wore purple in the student section when attending football and basketball games vs. Kansas State.