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NCAA to allow schools to provide non-athletic aid without inflating scholarship total

arizona-wildcats-college-baseball-softball-ncaa-scholarships-aid-2021-legislation-budget-coronavirus Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

The NCAA has passed legislation that will have a huge impact on most non-revenue college sports.

As of Aug. 1, teams will be allowed to provide need- and merit-based aid to student-athletes without it counting toward a program’s athletic scholarship limit. This is particularly helpful for the Division I sports that are considered “equivalency” sports, which means they’re able to offer partial athletic scholarships.

Only football, men’s and women’s basketball, women’s gymnastics, women’s tennis and women’s volleyball are known as “head count” sports, where only full scholarships can be provided, so this change wouldn’t apply to them.

The change will be especially helpful for baseball programs in the 2020-21 academic year, since the NCAA recently approved one-year adjustments to its scholarship rules for that sport. Baseball teams, which only get 11.7 scholarships, can split those among 32 players next year (up from 27) and for just 2020-21 can offer less one-fourth of a scholarship to a player.

Baseball, softball and student-athletes from the rest of the spring sports were granted an extra year of eligibility after the coronavirus pandemic shut down college activities in mid-March, leading to some significant roster crunches for the 2021 season.