“What we tried to do was encourage our seniors to go ahead and, if you’re going to graduate, graduate and move on with your life,” Wisconsin Badgers athletic director Barry Alvarez said Wednesday on his monthly radio show on WIBA-AM. “We appreciate everything that you’ve done. But move forward. The future is in question, and we can’t promise you anything.”
With the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic cancelling all spring sports across the country, the NCAA decided to give senior athletes a one-time waiver where they could play their senior season next year after missing out this year.
The UW Athletic Department will not be allowing their senior athletes to come back and play next year, however, according to Alvarez. Wisconsin sponsors 10 spring sports: men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s outdoor track and field, men’s and women’s rowing and women’s lightweight rowing, softball and men’s and women’s tennis.
Alvarez noted that this decision will affect over 30 Wisconsin athletes.
A statement from the #Badgers athletic department: "They are Badgers for life and we are greatly appreciative of the way they have represented our department and the university." pic.twitter.com/CFnNaRlmhp— Todd Milewski (@ToddMilewski) April 9, 2020
A portion of the statement from the UW Athletic Department read: “The athletic department has made the decision to not pursue waivers that would extend the eligibility of our senior student-athletes. Student-athletes in their fourth year of eligibility have concluded their careers with us.”
It also notes that “ a substantial percentage of the student-athletes are scheduled to earn their degrees before next spring” and “UW Athletics places tremendous emphasis on its student-athletes earning an undergraduate degree and having a great competitive experience.”
Despite not participating in their postseasons, winter sports athletes were not included in this waiver program.
According to a Madison.com piece by Todd Milewski, one of the reasons that Alvarez gave for not offering was the waivers was that it would be unfair to other students who weren’t atheltes.
“One of the arguments against having senior athletes return for another season, Alvarez said, was that other students won’t get a chance to finish a semester of studying abroad or be able to take part in a final musical performance that was canceled,” Milewski noted.
You should click on Milewski’s piece for other information gleaned from Alvarez’s radio show, including how much money the athletic department is losing and when the campus might reopen for sports.
The Badgers are the first Power 5 school (Princeton announced something similar on Thursday as well) to announce this, but one would reckon they won’t be the last to say this. One also wonders if this decision would be made if Wisconsin had a baseball or a men’s lacrosse program.