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Redshirt or COVID: How to Use Your Extra Year of Eligibility

COVID has created a new reality for many athletes who thought their athletic career was going to be cut short. This comes in the form of the “COVID Year:” an extra year of eligibility given to athletes whose seasons were cancelled or cut short due to COVID-19. While taking a COVID year will be unique to a small cohort of athletes, there are many other cases in which athletes could be granted an extra year. 

Another way to get an extra year of eligibility is to redshirt. Redshirting can be either for medical or academic reasons, or it could be a decision made between the coaching staff and the player. Once deciding to redshirt, you will sit out during your competition season. 

When deciding to redshirt or use your extra year of eligibility, it is important to consider the options and know what best fits your needs and supports your goals. 

Remain at your university and extend your undergraduate degree


  • Appealing to coaches
  • Gives you a chance to continue competing 
  • May lighten your course-load by spreading it over an extra year
  • Gives you a chance to add a major/minor


  • There is no going back
  • You’re stuck at this school until you finish your degree
    • You can transfer as an undergraduate student, with the limited credits you have remaining in your degree, it may be difficult for all of your completed credits to transfer 

Related: Coronavirus and Its Effect on College Sports Moving Forward 

Stay at your current university and get a graduate degree


  • You’re already in the athletic program
  • Usually, you can get into the master’s program a little easier if you completed your  undergrad at the same school
  • You are already acclimated to the area


  • You are not fully challenging yourself to embrace change
  • You might be closing yourself off from new experiences 

Related: Redshirt | Everything You Need to Know & Athlete’s Personal Experiences

Transfer to a different university to get your master’s degree


  • You can meet new people
  • You may have the opportunity to play more
  • You get to experience a new atmosphere
  • You can choose any master’s program that interests you, and find schools based on that


  • Change: Change is scary and the idea of uncertainty can lead to challenges along the way. Taking the leap can lead to either a really great experience or a not so great experience, but you won’t know without trying. 

Don’t take the extra year 

This is a tough decision to make when you’ve devoted so much time and energy to your sport. 


  • You can get a job and make money a year earlier
  • You can pursue a higher education sooner (medical school, law school) 


  • Leaving behind a sport you love
  • Feeling like you have unfinished business as a college athlete

None of the options mentioned above are the “right option.” Everyone’s path is different, and it’s important to consider your professional goals when determining what to do with your extra year of eligibility. There are pros and cons associated with every single option, and it’s crucial to weigh these pros and cons based on what’s best for you.

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