JMU coaches support extra year of eligibility

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HARRISONBURG, Va. -- James Madison University spring sports rosters will look a bit different in 2021 than originally expected.

James Madison University spring sports rosters will look a bit different in 2021 than originally expected.

Teams will likely have more players than normal after the NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility for spring sports athletes whose 2020 season was canceled early due to COVID-19. It provides seniors with a chance to return for another season.

Across JMU's eight spring sports, between 12-15 seniors are expected to be back for an extra year of eligibility in 2021.

"The biggest thing is giving them an option to play and I'm excited that the NCAA came out and gave them an option to play," said JMU baseball head coach Marlin Ikenberry. "Now it's just up to us and them to see how we can make this work."

Ikenberry says he expects around four seniors back with the JMU baseball team next year. As for JMU softball, head coach Loren LaPorte told WHSV seniors Odicci Alexander, Kate Gordon, and Madison Naujokas are all planning to return for an extra season in 2021. Alexander is the reigning CAA Player of the Year, Gordon holds JMU's all-time home run record, and Naujokas has started 196 games for the Dukes in her career.

"I think the NCAA made a good decision," said LaPorte. "Especially for those seniors, to finish their season at 30%, it just didn't feel right. So I am really happy that they do get another year back."

JMU women's lacrosse head coach Shelley Klaes-Bawcombe is also pleased with the NCAA's decision and expects between 1-3 seniors back with the Dukes next season.

"I think that the NCAA and JMU have done exactly what they should do," said Klaes-Bawcombe. "I'm really proud to be at an institution that has decided to support not only the eligibility year but also the financial support. That's huge."

JMU features eight spring sports programs: Baseball, Softball, Women's Lacrosse, Men's Golf, Women's Golf, Women's Track & Field, Men's Tennis, Women's Tennis.