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NCAA provides roster relief for college baseball

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There are three big changes that will take effect for the 2021 season.

COLLEGE BASEBALL: APR 08 Baylor at Texas Photo by John Rivera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After acting to extend another year of eligibility to senior college baseball players who had their final season cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Division I Council for Legislative Relief acted on Wednesday to provide necessary assistance to programs across the country.

The NCAA did not approve a change proposed by the SEC to increase scholarships from 11.7 to 13.7.

With the 2020 MLB Draft reduced to five rounds and non-drafted players limited to a maximum salary of $20,000, the committee needed to make rule changes to avoid potentially significant roster churn and major headaches for coaching staffs.

Now the temporary rule modifications will allow coaches the opportunity to bring back players who wish to take advantage of another year of eligibility without having to cut other players or force them entirely off scholarship.

What does this mean for Texas next season?

The possibility that fewer signees from the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class will sign with professional teams and the potential return of more draft-eligible players is one potential impact. Those returning players now won’t push other more fringe players off the roster.

Potential returnees who might otherwise turn professional or move on from baseball include outfielders Austin Todd and Duke Ellis, first baseman Zach Zubia, and catcher DJ Petrinsky.

Unfortunately for Texas, many of the highly-regarded signees are prospects expected to be drafted in the five rounds on Wednesday and Thursday, but it’s possible that the coronavirus pandemic and contraction of minor league baseball will be enough to convince some of those players to land on the Forty Acres after all.

Regardless of whether that happens, it will now be much easier for head coach David Pierce and his staff to manage the Longhorns baseball roster next season.