The Relief Brief

March 31, 2020

By: Jeff Yoder

John Wooden

“Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”

Make it down to today’s “On This Day in Sports History” for a look back at Wooden’s last game.



Eligibility Relief Approved 

Photo: Peter Aiken / Getty Images

NCAA Grants Extra Year of Eligibility to All Spring Athletes

Another shot! It’s official. On Monday, the NCAA Division I council voted to grant all student-athletes involved in spring sports an extra year of eligibility. How that will work requires some outside-the-box thinking in regards to scholarships and financial aid, but it’s a start.

Expanded Rosters & Scholarships
The pool of NCAA student-athletes just grew by (roughly) 20-25%. Combine returning seniors with incoming freshman (five classes instead of four), and scholarships become harder to find. The NCAA is allowing expanded rosters and scholarships for all spring sports, including baseball, but each individual school will determine how financial aid is handled for returning seniors. Those additional scholarship costs in 2020 could make things difficult.

Spring Sports With Relief
Baseball, softball, tennis, golf, track and field, lacrosse, rowing, volleyball, and water polo are included in the eligibility relief guidelines. Winter sports that were cut short — like basketball, hockey, and swimming — are not.

Additional Reads
ESPN: NCAA Panel Backs Athlete Eligibility Relief
USA Today: NCAA’s Eligibility Ruling Could Put Schools & Coaches in Awkward Positions



The Match: Part II

Photo: Harry How / Getty Images

Phil Mickelson Teases Rematch of 1-on-1 Showdown With Tiger Woods

The remedy to a live sports shutdown? It’s this, in all it’s glory, and we need it now.

Part I: On November 23, 2018, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods came together for ‘The Match’ — golf’s first pay-per-view event held in Las Vegas. The round went into overtime before Mickelson won it on the 22nd hole to claim a $9 million prize. Round 2 was always a possibility, and now it feels like a necessity.

Part II: No details have been confirmed, but Mickelson has been determined to have a rematch ever since the 2018 event. Sunday night on Twitter, he said he’s working on Part II. The pairing had also previously discussed adding celebrity partners to play 2-v-2 similar to the Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

No matter the format, reward, or network, we need this.

Read More (Golf Channel)

Additional Reads
The Spun: Tiger vs. Phil II Could Involve Two Legendary QBs



2021 Date Set for Tokyo Olympics

Photo: Carl Court / Getty Images

2021 Olympics: July 23 — August 8

Book it. The 2020 Olympics — yes, they’ll still be called the 2020 Olympic Games — are scheduled to begin on July 23, 2021. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) made the announcement yesterday morning to signal a full year postponement. This year’s schedule had the Olympics beginning on July 24.

What It Means
The IOC made it clear that the Olympics belong in the summer, and a shorter delay to fall 2020 or spring 2021 wasn’t an option. It also means Olympic qualifiers will have a unique twist in the coming months. More than 60 percent of available Olympic spots have been claimed, but the remaining 40 percent will require additional training time and financial investment. That’s good for some and bad for others, but all Olympic qualifiers scheduled this spring have been postponed.

Read More (NBC Sports)

Additional Reads
Yahoo! Sports: Olympics Postponement Puts Some Athlete Dreams in Jeopardy



These Lucky Bucs

Photo: Jacob Kupferman / Getty Images

Tampa Bay GM Says Tom Brady Pitched Himself to Team

The Tampa Bay Bucs landed the biggest fish in 2020 free agency, but the story of how they did it is turning heads. For the last few weeks, we all thought they pitched Brady on why Tampa Bay was a good fit for him. It appeared as if they won the sweepstakes with some magic offer. Turns out, it was the other way around…

“It was almost like recruitment on his part, telling us why it would make sense for him to come to Tampa Bay.” — Bucs GM Jason Licht

The Bucs GM went on ESPN’s ‘Get Up!’ morning show on Monday and said they knew they had Brady after the first phone call, as if he knew he wanted to go to Tampa Bay all along. The six-time Super Bowl winner had his eyes on Tampa before they even made a pitch; right coach, warm weather, talented receivers. The greatest QB of all time just walked through the door. These are some lucky Bucs…

Read More (USA Today)



Wooden Leaves UCLA On Top

Photo: Al Bello / Getty Images

John Wooden Wins 10th NCAA Title in His Final Game

March 31, 1975 — Legendary UCLA coach John Wooden had won nine NCAA Championships with the Bruins from 1964-1974, but he wasn’t done. After UCLA beat Louisville (75-74) in the semi-final in 1975, Wooden shocked the world by announcing his retirement in the post-game press conference. Two days later, in his final game, UCLA beat Kentucky (92-85) and Wooden claimed his tenth NCAA crown in 12 seasons. John Wooden, The Wizard of Westwood, walked away a winner…

UCLA Five Beats Kentucky Using One Substitute (New York Times, 1975)



⚫️ Sports — We Miss It, Too
ESPN aired a commercial tribute to sports and the overwhelming void left by them during this time… “Where else can we all find something to believe in?” (Video: ESPN Twitter)

⚫️ Rodgers’ Escape From Peru
Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers found himself in a dangerous situation. He describes a panicked escape from Peru amid the COVID-19 outbreak… “It was pandemonium.” (CBS Sports)

⚫️ Tommy John Surgery, Now?
Pro athletes are already under fire for preferential treatment during the coronavirus crisis—and medical ethicists say this is another example. (Sports Illustrated)



Wimbledon Officially Canceled for First Time Since World War II
(CBS Sports)

Shaq Addresses His Appearance on Netflix Doc ‘Tiger King’

CBS & NBC to Broadcast NFL’s Two New NFL Wild Card Playoff Games
(Sports Illustrated)

UFC 249 in Question With Khabib Nurmagomedov Stuck in Russia
(Yahoo! Sports)

Free Agent Safety Eric Reid Calls for Investigation of New NFL CBA
(Bleacher Report)

NBA Planning Players-Only 2K20 Tournament Broadcast on ESPN
(NBC Sports)