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College Notebook: Eligibility News From LBSU, LBCC

There is big news coming from the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

The NCAA promised to rule on eligibility relief after canceling its spring sports championships earlier this month, and next week the Council Coordination Committee will announce its decision on how to deal with the seniors who had their final season cut short by COVID-19.

“They’re trying to find a way to replace that eligibility lost,” Long Beach State athletic director Andy Fee said. “They said ‘all student-athletes’ but I don’t know if that truly means all, where a freshman and a senior on a team would both get plus one (year of eligibility).”

Fee added that a solution for seniors who weren’t ready to have their college careers end should be the priority.

“I could see an argument that gives just the seniors a year, and I could see an argument that gives everybody in spring sports a year back,” Fee said. “I think that there’s so many unknowns that it’s difficult for me to sit here and say what’s likely to work best.”

The NCAA also will have to answer questions concerning transfers, and some of those decisions will change eligibility.

“I chuckle back to when I said that it would be problematic with ‘name, image, likeness’ issues,” Fee said. “I’m not sure which goes first. The eligibility and transfer questions will have to be addressed quickly. Those decisions will be huge components to whatever we do moving forward.”

“I hope that (NCAA President Mark) Emmert comes up with a concept of what he thinks it should look like,” Fee added. “Whether that’s an ad-hoc committee similar to what name, image and likeness was… we’re probably going to have to do things we never thought we’d have to. We’re in a different world.”

That new world could include crowded rosters in the coming years if all 2020 spring participates are given an extra year. Programs like the LBSU Dirtbags would have a tough time adjusting to carrying more players.

“If everyone gets the year back, players would get a scholarship for a year that we weren’t counting on,” Dirtbags coach Eric Valenzuela said. “Even if the NCAA says the seniors don’t count against the 11.7 scholarships per team, the department has to fund that. We’ll have to pay for our sophomores twice. Not that I don’t want them, but now I’ll have to make some adjustments with the high school seniors coming in… We also have committed juniors in high school, but we didn’t count on paying for another year. There’s not much I can do right now.”

Long Beach City College Eligibility

The California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) Board of Directors voted unanimously last week to restore the spring season of competition for approximately 9,500 student-athletes. The junior college governing body also officially canceled all spring sports this year, and officially banned face-to-face recruiting and recruiting-related travel. That will be re-evaluated next month.

LBSU Track & Field

Last week, the World Athletics announced that Jack Rose Track has been awarded Class 2 Certification. It is a rare distinction among worldwide athletics facilities, and the LBSU athletics department has been working towards this honor for years.

The World Athletics program is to help ensure the “accuracy and integrity of the sport worldwide at an elite level, and recognize running surfaces, facilities and equipment that meet an International Competition standard.”

Jack Rose Track shows that the “synthetic surface has a valid IAAF Product Certificate and … the facility conforms to the stringent requirements for accurate measurement contained in IAAF Competition Rules,” according to World Athletics.

LBSU joins Oregon, Auburn, Arkansas, Kansas, Texas A&M, Indiana, North Florida, and UT-San Antonio as one of just a handful of universities receiving World Athletics Certification.

Jack Rose Track is also just the 13th facility in the United States to receive World Athletics Certification. Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson is the only other certified facility in California.

LBSU Softball

Former LBSU captain Nichole Fry signed a contract with the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) last week. She will play for the league’s latest affiliate franchise in Los Angeles, the California Commotion. Fry is the first LBSU alum to join the NPF.

“I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to continue to grow and learn from amazing coaches and outstanding players,” Fry said. “It’s crazy to just take a step back and look how blessed I am to play the game I love, professionally for my home state. I look forward to playing for the Commotion, to represent this sport, girls and women, and California.”

Fry was an outstanding defensive shortstop at LBSU, where she was at the top of the lineup for four years. She finished her career as LBSU’s career leader in runs scored. Fry also ranked Top 10 in doubles, triples, hits, home runs and RBI at the Beach. She was a two-time first-team All-Big West selection, and is the reigning 2019 Big West Defensive Player of the Year.

“We are thrilled to have Nichole join our team,” commented Commotion General Manager Deb Hartwig. “She is an excellent defensive player, which is represented by being honored collegiality while at Long Beach as the Defensive Player of the Year. She will be a great addition to our roster.”

LBSU now has domestic professionals in softball, baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s volleyball, women’s soccer, men’s golf, and men’s and women’s beach volleyball.

JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.