BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Friday afternoon the NJCAA gave insight on their next steps amid the coronavirus situation, making the decision to not charge student-athletes a year of eligibility. That means sophomores participating in Gulf Coast and Pearl River spring sports can return for another season.
The association is also looking into increasing the number of letters of intent as long as the eligibility committee approves.
The NJCAA will suspend all spring competition through Friday, April 3rd, including the postponement of division one & two basketball championships until April 20th, giving hope that junior college athletics will return sooner, rather than later.
That is reassuring news to teams like Pearl River baseball and Gulf Coast softball who were having spectacular seasons.
Mississippi Gulf Coast softball team has risen from being ranked 13th to the number two team in division two softball after starting the season 14-0, while Pearl River’s baseball team hasn’t missed a step from last year’s NJCAA World Series run, starting the season off at 12-4 ranking third in the country.
Pearl River men’s basketball was set to leave this weekend to head to Hutchinson, Kansas, as the number one seed in the national tournament after becoming the first ever MACJC team to enter the tournament unbeaten (28-0), but all of it came to a screeching halt Thursday when the MACJC and NJCAA announced their suspensions and postponements.
With the uncertainty of when they’ll play again, the programs are reasonably frustrated, but rather be safe than sorry.
“It’s about a lot more than just athletics,” MGCCC athletic director Steven Campbell Jr. said. “Athletics are very important to me and to the whole institution but I think right now we’re just in a different situation and worrying about when we can get back and what the rest of the season looks like. Right now we’re just worried about the safety of the rest of our student-athletes and everybody else in the area.”
“You can’t help but be disappointed or feel bad for the sophomores and to all the kids," Pearl River head basketball coach Chris Oney said. "When we were recruiting, this was the dream we told them about. We still had a lot of good times, and that’s what we talked about.”