New NCAA eligibility rules during pandemic may make it tough for HS athletes to get scholarships

The New Jersey high school basketball season begins on Tuesday after being delayed for over a month because of COVID-19.
Players around the state are chasing college scholarships, but the pandemic may be making this effort more difficult. It is trickling down from the NCAA, which is giving its athletes an extra year of eligibility. It is good news for those who are already playing college basketball. But makes it more difficult for others trying to break in.
“It’s really going to kill recruiting with juniors and seniors in the state,” says Elizabeth basketball coach Phil Colicchio.
Colicchio says that while colleges can give more scholarships than usual, schools may not be able to afford it.
“It’s already happened with one of the schools that offered one of my kids and the senior decided they’re going to come back again for another year and now that scholarship is off the table,” Colicchio says.
This could send more players to prep schools. It is just one way that the pandemic is effecting Colicchio’s team. Another is that no fans or parents are allowed to spectate.
Elizabeth was forced to play without fans in March when the pandemic was just starting. Colicchio was earning his 500th win and the team was doing well. But he says that it didn’t seem real.
“The last time I saw these kids in this gym we were winning North Jersey Group 4 and it was a hollow feeling. It was like, ‘Everybody go home,’ and that was it,” Colicchio says.
There won’t be any playoffs this year. Colicchio says that Elizabeth’s entire philosophy is geared toward the tournament. Now they must focus on celebrating the senior class.
Safety is also important. Players must have their masks at the ready, even though they won’t have to wear them while playing.
Unlike other states, Gov. Phil Murphy has consistently prioritized high school sports – from a baseball tournament during the summer, to the fall and now winter seasons. The governor says that if the infection numbers continue to decline, some spectators may be allowed to view games.