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JUCO baseball star gets eligibility ‘surplus’ with Texas Longhorns

EL PASO, Texas -- After canceling spring athletics, the NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility to spring athletes on Monday. It's great news for some who want another chance at a winning season.

But on the flip side, as UTEP Athletic Director Jim Senter mentioned on the "Picks Up Podcast," the student-athletes don’t necessarily have to come back if they have other opportunities lined up postgrad.

The truth is there's a lot of seniors who probably, because most of our sports are equivalency sports, so there's going to be a lot of them that probably say "Gosh, I'm ready to go on, I plan on graduating in May.'' said Senter.

And while many college athletes are faced with a question mark as to whether or they wanna come back for that extra year of eligibility, the ruling has given one local talent a golden opportunity at his dream school.

That’s because former Coronado baseball star Ivan Melendez will be transferring to the University of Texas from junior college.

Melendez’s season with Odessa College was cancelled about a third of the way through, but he had already been committed to UT.

With an extra year of eligibility, Ivan, a JUCO All-American, could return to Odessa to try and get drafted to the MLB, where you can leave for the pros prior to your junior year.

Or, Melendez could move ahead to Austin with that extra year in his pocket.

“Half of people are telling me to go back to JUCO and put up some numbers and try to get some money in the draft," says Melendez. "I’ve heard go get your education, you could get more money out of Texas."

"And I’m leaning toward Texas.”

Ivan will have to apply for a waiver to earn that third year in Austin, but his coaches at Texas told him it’s about 90% the waiver will be approved.

“It’s my choice obviously, but they’d love to have me no matter what," says Melendez in regards to his prospects at Texas. "They only have 3 seniors so it wasn’t like I’m going to be competing against a full senior team and whatnot. So that’s the good news.”

So Ivan should get to play right away at Texas, his dream school. And he’ll get to do so for three years rather than than the two he initially signed up for.

“I get a year back of eligibility and I get to work closer to my degree. I know it’s a tough time right now. But for me personally it’s just a blessing, I feel lucky.”

Texas Sports / UTEP

Nate Ryan

Nate Ryan is an ABC-7 sports anchor/reporter.

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