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Frazier: Extra eligibility for spring athletes a positive, complex issue

(Left to Right) NIU athletic director Sean T Frazier, Ellie Mallory, Barb Mallory-Britt and Miami Redhawk athletic David Sayler stand next to the Mallory Cup during a presentation on the field in DeKalb Nov. 14.
(Left to Right) NIU athletic director Sean T Frazier, Ellie Mallory, Barb Mallory-Britt and Miami Redhawk athletic David Sayler stand next to the Mallory Cup during a presentation on the field in DeKalb Nov. 14.

The following is the third in a three-part series of interviews with NIU athletic director about how the school and department are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. In this entry, Frazier discusses his thoughts on the NCAA granting extra eligibility to spring athletes.

When the NCAA extended reliability for spring sport athletes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sean Frazier said he was glad to hear the news.

But as athletic director of NIU, he immediately started thinking about the far-reaching effects of the decision.

"It's good but it's complex, right?" Frazier said. "The good news is the kids have been devastated by a season-ending scenario, especially with the spring sports, right? They get a chance, they come back. They have an option to come back and it's not going to count against our caps. ... That's the right thing to do."

Frazier said there are 32 NIU seniors affected by the policy. He said it could cost the school an extra half a million dollars depending on how many students decide to extend their undergraduate careers.

"There's a lot of very enterprising young people who have made plans to go to law school, to med school and other life decisions," Frazier said. "We don't have the total number down but we're planning like all 32 are going to come back."

As Frazier moves forward planning budgets in uncertain times – the NCAA has cancelled spring sports but has made no decision about the fall – he said he didn't feel it would have too much of an impact on recruiting. Coaches are currently in a dead period with recruits through May 31.

So even though no program can currently visit recruits or have recruits come to campus, Frazier said the eligibility extension doesn't necessarily alleviate that situation.

"You're always recruiting," Frazier said. "I don't how much that gave flexibility moreso than another dynamic than if you're a coach, to know you're going to have that senior coming back. Now you were recruiting that freshman with the understanding they were going to fill a void or be in the developmental process of filling a void of a senior."

Frazier used a hypothetical example of a winter sport with men's basketball standout Eugene German.

"It's not like we're losing, say Eugene German, and we're going to bring in so and so to replace him," Frazier said. "It's more like so and so is going to be here for a while. So it's more developmental training. You're always putting that in the matrix and saying we've got a great opportunity. That senior is coming back, and we've got the chance for this freshman to do more developmental type of work and play a different type of role."

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