Some notable local Division I college golfers receive option to get second crack at senior season as NCAA grants relief after 2020 spring championships canceled; date for Women’s Golf Day events changed
By Gary Baines – 3/31/2020
When the college golf season ended suddenly on March 12 — the day the NCAA announced that its remaining winter and spring championships had been canceled due to coronavirus concerns — it seemed especially heartbreaking for seniors.
Instead of ending their college careers with proper closure — whether it came in conference championships, NCAA regionals or the NCAA championship finals — the rug was ripped out from under them with no notice.
But shortly thereafter, it became apparent that the NCAA was working on granting an extra season of eligibility to athletes involved in spring sports — including men’s and women’s golfers.
That proposal became reality on Monday when the NCAA Division I Council approved such a plan. Included among the new provisions, DI schools will have flexibility regarding how much — if any — scholarship support they give to current seniors who decide to come back for the 2020-21 season. And schools can use the NCAA’s Student Assistance Fund to pay for the scholarships of the seniors who are taking advantage of the additional season of eligibility.
The NCAA is also allowing programs more athletes on scholarship in ’20-21 as incoming recruits potentially join two years of seniors on rosters.
For the nine NCAA Division I golf programs based in Colorado (five men’s, four women’s), the seniors that might take advantage of the opportunity to return include quite a few impressive players, many of whom grew up in the Centennial State.
There’s a three-time CGA Women’s Player of the Year (Mary Weinstein of the University of Denver), the 2018 CGA Player of the Year (AJ Ott of Colorado State), along with fellow former Colorado junior standouts Coby Welch (Northern Colorado), Ross Macdonald (University of Colorado) and Morgan Sahm (UNC).
Five of the nine Colorado-based Division I teams had a senior leading the squad in scoring average in 2019-20: the CU men (Daniel O’Loughlin of England), CU women (Kirsty Hodgkins of Australia), UNC men (Welch), UNC women (Marisa Hisaki of Japan) and the Air Force Academy men (Joseph Crisostomo).
It should be reiterated that Monday’s decision only provides an option for current senior golfers to return. It will be up to those athletes — in conjunction with their programs — to determine whether they’ll compete in college for another year.
“The Council’s decision gives individual schools the flexibility to make decisions at a campus level,” said University of Pennsylvania athletic director M. Grace Calhoun, the NCAA DI Council chairperson. “The Board of Governors encouraged conferences and schools to take action in the best interest of student-athletes and their communities, and now schools have the opportunity to do that.”
Here are the current seniors at the nine NCAA Division I golf programs based in Colorado:
AJ Ott of Fort Collins
Fiona Hebbel of Germany
Jessica Sloot of Fruit Heights, Utah
Victor Bjorlow of Spain
Andrew Leveque of Windermere, Fla.
Ross Macdonald of Castle Rock
Daniel O’Loughlin of England
Kirsty Hodgkins of Australia
Eric Hagen of Aberdeen, Wash.
Roy Kang of Canada
Alison Armstrong of Tampa, Fla.
Maggie Cowart of Austin, Texas
Camille Enright of Plano, Texas
Mary Weinstein of Highlands Ranch
Nick Sharp of Ripon, Calif.
Coby Welch of Highlands Ranch
Marisa Hisaki of Japan
Morgan Sahm of Centennial
Air Force Academy Men
Joseph Crisostomo of Fullerton, Calif.
Anson Kuznik of Orono, Minn.
Sam Legarreta of El Paso, Texas
Josh Wu of Medford, Ore.
Meanwhile, in another coronavirus-related update:
Organizers have announced that worldwide events surrounding Women’s Golf Day, which is being celebrated for the fifth time, have been moved from June 2 to Sept. 1. Meanwhile, a “virtual” Women’s Golf Day will be held on June 2 via social media platforms. For more information, CLICK HERE.