Athletes playing in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics have to say goodbye to sports after they graduate with a degree, but in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) graduate students can play on.
In California Baptist University’s first year of play in NCAA Division II, the women’s basketball team has two post players that are currently in graduate school.
Alexis Johnson received a bachelor’s degree from Delaware State University and is now playing center for the Lancers. Johnson is currently part of the forensic psychology program at CBU and is playing in her last year of eligibility for the Lancers.
Johnson finds playing sports to be a challenge because most of her activities happen during the evenings.
“All of our classes are at night so it makes our days longer because we have to go to practice and right after we have class until 10 at night,” Johnson said in an email.
“On days when we have 6 a.m. practice the next day makes it a little more tiring.”
Johnson enjoys being able to relax during the day, giving her extra time that she didn’t have as an undergraduate student.
“I do like the fact that we have all day to get our work done and relax, it seems as if we have more free time the we did in undergrad,” Johnson said.
Johnson’s teammate, Nicole Anderson earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of California, Riverside (UCR) where she played in 32 games last season. Prior to that, Anderson played two seasons with California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo before transferring to UCR.
Anderson, who is also studying forensic psychology, started all three opening games for the Lancers, scoring 25 points with five steals and one block.
Both women started the first three games, contributing a total of 63 points for the Lancers, who are 2-1 on the season as of Wednesday.
NCAA rules state that, “a student-athlete who is enrolled in a graduate or professional school of the college or university which he or she previously attended as an undergraduate student may participate in intercollegiate athletics.” Athletes must have been within 10 semesters of their graduation year and have eligibility remaining. Debbie Snell, associate director of athletes said the broader spectrum of available athletes could assist with recruiting students looking for a graduate degree.
“I think that could help. We could recruit… student athletes who come here to work on a master’s degree or an advanced degree, who’ve already completed their bachelor’s,” Snell said.
“That could be a very positive thing for our graduate programs and our athletics department.”
Division II athletes have the added option to play for a different school from the one that they previously played for.
Snell added that Johnson and Anderson are a great addition to the Lancers athletic department.
“They are wonderful to work with. They are very mature student athletes and we are enjoying them very much,” Snell said.