On Wednesday, Big 12 officials met via teleconference for two hours to discuss what commissioner Bob Bowlsby told the Austin American-Statesman’s Kirk Bohls were “eligibility matters.”
At the national level, there’s no resolution yet as the NCAA tries to decide whether to grant an extra year of eligibility to players in winter and spring sports who were impacted by coronavirus-related cancelations that included conference basketball tournaments, the NCAA basketball tournament, and a significant part of the season for spring sports like baseball and softball that hadn’t yet started conference play.
According to Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports, however, the NCAA is currently siding against extending extra eligibility to winter sports like men’s and women’s basketball, but is still considering that possibility for spring sports.
Assuming that Rothstein is correct about men’s and women’s basketball, the decision will have a much greater impact on the women’s team than the men’s team. In fact, while the women’s team will lose four players, including four of top six scorers, Texas Longhorns men’s head coach Shaka Smart’s team didn’t have a single scholarship senior.
So there’s no relief likely for embattled head coach Karen Aston, whose women’s team finished third in the conference with a 19-11 record in a down year — No. 3 Baylor finished the season as the only ranked team in the Big 12. Now Aston will have to replace leading scorer Joyner Holmes, the versatile forward, point guard Sug Sutton, who had more than one third of the team’s total assists, standout perimeter defender Lashann Higgs, and Jada Underwood, who led the team in three-point percentage (40.9).
Since there weren’t any seniors on the men’s team, an extra year of eligibility could have helped Big 12 programs like Oklahoma State or Kansas State that had seniors projecting as G League or overseas talent professionally who might have returned, but otherwise doesn’t impact Texas.