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NCAA to allow student-athletes to opt out without losing their scholarships

The NCAA added new guidelines for the fall sports seasons.

All college athletes can opt out of their upcoming sports seasons, if they have concerns about contracting COVID-19, and universities and colleges must honor the athlete's scholarship.

"Student-athletes should never feel pressured into playing their sport if they do not believe it is safe to do so," NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement.

The NCAA added this and other regulations to its return-to-sport guidelines for the fall sports season.

One of the major guidelines state that the three divisions must determine whether their fall sports season and fall NCAA championships will occur by Aug. 21. 

UPDATE: Division II and III presidents councils cancel fall championships

Other guidelines are as followed: 

- All member schools must adhere to federal, state and local guidelines related to COVID-19. Further, the conduct of NCAA championships must be in line with federal, state and local guidelines.

- Each division must determine no later than Aug. 14 the eligibility accommodations that must be made for student-athletes who opt out of participating this fall or for those whose seasons are canceled or cut short due to COVID-19. College athletes and their families must know what their eligibility status will be before beginning the fall season.

- Member schools may not require student-athletes to waive their legal rights regarding COVID-19 as a condition of athletics participation. 

- Member schools, in conjunction with existing insurance standards, must cover COVID-19 related medical expenses for student-athletes to prevent out-of-pocket expenses for college athletes and their families.

- Any NCAA fall championship or other postseason contests must be conducted within enhanced safety protocols for student-athletes and essential athletics personnel. These safety enhancements will include regular testing, separation of college athletes and essential personnel from all other nonessential personnel, and physical distancing and masking policies during all aspects of non-competition. 

The NCAA will also create a phone number and email, allowing student-athletes and parents to report programs for failure to follow guidelines. The appropriate school and conference administrators will be notified of the report and are expected to take immediate action by the NCAA.