UAAP eyes eligibility, age limit extension

MANILA, Philippines – Fifth-year and overage players whose final seasons were cut short due to the virus-hit UAAP Season 82 may get a chance to play again next season.

League officials say the UAAP Board of Managing Directors plans to adjust the eligibility and age-limit rules for next season, with the proposal still set for approval by the Board of Trustees.

“They will still be eligible to play this school year. It’s like their last year was waived,” said Francis Diaz, the board representative of the University of the Philippines.

UAAP student-athletes are eligible to participate in sporting events only for 5 seasons while staying clear of the 25-year-old age limit the collegiate sports league implements. 

But several sports had to cut their season short, while some didn’t get to start at all as the UAAP canceled Season 82 last April 7 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Diaz clarified the proposed rule applies only to those whose sporting events were canceled in Season 82, such as the men’s and women’s volleyball tournaments.

“All the fifth-year players, for as long as they will still be enrolled this coming school year, they will be allowed to play,” he said.

Yan yung mas madaling tanggapin, kasi how can you call it a playing year kung hindi sila naglaro?” said UAAP executive director Rebo Saguisag.

(That’s easier to accept because how can you call it a playing year if they didn’t get to play?)

The age-limit issue, on the other hand, has more conditions. (READ: September UAAP opening looks unlikely, league officials say)

According to UAAP president Emmanuel Fernandez of Ateneo, student-athletes who are now above the age limit could still be allowed to participate as long as they were lined up by their respective teams and deemed eligible in Season 82. 

Kung wala sila sa lineup ng Season 82, bawal (If they weren’t lined up in Season 82, they can't play),” he clarified. 

This also applies only to those whose respective sporting events were canceled.

“We’re giving preference to those who were not able to play,” said Fernandez.

True freshmen

The proposal is still up for approval by the Board of Trustees, which is composed of the presidents of the participating universities. 

“We are considering maybe giving them an extra year of eligibility, even if they violate the age limit, but that is still subject for final Board of Trustees approval,” said Saguisag, who called the topic a “slightly contentious issue.”

“It cannot be just any 26-year-old. It cannot be just anyone,” he added.

“So it’s only from that initial pool who were lined up [who will be covered by the rule]. Para wala na makakasingit na bago (We shouldn’t allow insertion of new players).”

There are also other minor repercussions resulting from the cancellation that the UAAP will have to address.

For instance, will freshmen students in Season 82 who will become sophomores still be considered rookies in Season 83? 

The UAAP usually only gives the Rookie of the Year award to true freshmen.

“That’s another good point,” Saguisag admitted. “The awarding, we have yet to discuss. That’s something we haven’t really settled.” 

Saguisag said there’s wiggle room to properly determine who will be considered as “rookies,” and there are points to argue for both sides of the topic.

“This is unprecedented. I don’t think in recent memory that something like this happened, apart from the second World War when the UAAP got interrupted,” said the executive director. 

“Other than that, it’s really a first.”

As for other remaining issues – such as the UAAP’s broadcasting partnership with ABS-CBN – Fernandez believes the board will have enough leeway to come up with solutions. 

“I think we have ample time to assess the situation. That’s my opinion,” he said. –