COVID-related anomalies, student-athlete decisions, and the NCAA’s actions to extend student-athlete eligibility and suspend certain recruiting activities due to COVID in 2020-21 caused some significant changes to certain teams’ roster sizes. The primary change was that COVID prevented Clemson from engaging in its typical novice rowing recruiting, which resulted in a significantly smaller rowing roster in 2020-21. That result proved beneficial for the team, as its same-level funding could be shared among fewer student-athletes, and inspired Clemson to maintain a comparable roster size in future years.Those rowing participation opportunities will be supplemented by 2023-24 with new women’s opportunities, principally on our new NCAA lacrosse and gymnastics teams.
Beyond impacting recruiting for rowing and other teams, COVID also caused the NCAA to waive certain eligibility rules, causing a class of “super seniors” in 2020-21 to whom the NCAA granted an additional year of eligibility. The one-year variations in Clemson’s student-athlete participation counts were justifiably caused by the unique nature of the impact that the worldwide pandemic had on Clemson’s teams and the NCAA as well as student-athletes’ individual choices.
For 2020-21, Clemson’s unduplicated female student-athlete participation ratio was 44.18%, and Clemson’s female athletic scholarship ratio was 43.64%. The resulting 0.54% difference is well within the “substantial proportionality” standard under Title IX rules and constitutes compliance with Title IX’s athletic scholarship provisions.