The NCAA Division-I Board of Directors voted on Friday to give all fall student-athletes an additional year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The board also adopted other coronavirus protections for college athletes.
Schools are prohibited from requiring student-athletes to waive their legal rights regarding COVID-19 as a condition of participation.
Schools are prohibited from canceling or reducing scholarships if athletes opt not to participate because of COVID-19.
“I’m glad the NCAA is giving us options,” said Andres Velasquez, a key member of the UC Davis men’s soccer program and a 2017 graduate of Central Valley High School. “I’m sure a lot of people are happy.”
Velasquez will be eligible to play a sixth season of soccer at UC Davis in the fall of 2022.
He’ll graduate with a degree in managerial economics in December of 2021.
“If I don’t have any (pro) offers after my fifth year, I might stay another year and more opportunities might come,” Velasquez said. “I’ll keep my options open.”
The Big West Conference Board of Directors announced on July 30 the fall sports college season will be postponed through the end of the calendar year due to public safety concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Board will determine at a later date if fall sports, including men’s soccer, women’s soccer, men’s cross country, women’s cross country, men’s golf, women’s golf, men’s tennis, women’s tennis and women’s volleyball, would be feasible in the spring.
“I’m not mad,” Velasquez said. “You can live with having a season postponed. But you can’t live with someone dying because you didn’t take precautions. There are bigger things than sports. The safety of thousands of people is more important.”
Velasquez logged playing time at midfielder as UC Davis qualified for the NCAA Division-I Tournament for just the third time in program history, compiled a 13-5-2 overall record and claimed the Big West Conference Tournament title for the first time in 2019. He collected three goals, including two game-winners, and one assist while starting all 20 games.
“I was reliable and consistent,” said Velasquez, who was named to the All-Big West Conference Second Team.
Velasquez broke a scoreless tie 10 minutes into the second half as the Aggies pulled away for a 2-0 victory against UC Santa Barbara during the conference tourney championship match.
“Our plan is to win a national championship this season,” he said. “My individual goal is to make zero mistakes every game. I was close last year.”
Velasquez posted a career-best 3.9 grade-point average during the 2020 spring quarter.
“It was the best quarter I’ve had and it was online,” he said.
Velasquez had a 2.1 GPA fall quarter freshman year.
“The transition was insane,” he said. “Once I got used to it, it became easier. I use soccer as motivation to do the work. Soccer is my life. It got me to one of the best public colleges in the country.”
The 2020-21 school year will begin on Sept. 30.
UC Davis will offer the majority of its classes online to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“I learn better on my own,” Velasquez said. “It’s a lot easier for me.”
Velasquez helped lead Central Valley to a 20-7-3 overall record and surprising berth to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III championship game in 2017.
Velasquez and the Hawks upset No. 1 East Union and No. 4 Rio Americano on their way to the finals.
Velasquez’s production at forward earned him Western Athletic Conference Most Valuable Player honors.
He led the WAC in scoring with 24 goals.
He ranked third in assists (9).
Velasquez is remembered as one of Central Valley’s all-time greatest players.
He followed in the footsteps of Ozzie Ramos (2012, 2011), Daniel Ochoa (2011), Gerardo Cazares (2010) and Jose Ramirez (2009) by being voted a league MVP.