The senior midfielder's season was cut short after four games because of the coronavirus and as much as he would like to go back, it's not a simple process
It’s not as simple as it sounds for TD Ierlan.
Yes, the NCAA has granted a blanket waiver for senior student-athletes to return next spring with an additional year of eligibility. And yes, the Victor graduate and Yale University senior lacrosse midfielder is one of many in the world of college athletics who are disappointed in losing this season because of the coronavirus pandemic.
But when it comes to deciding on a return to the Bulldogs for the 2021 season, it’s a definite maybe for Ierlan.
“With the Ivy League, there are no scholarships,” Ierlan said on Wednesday night. “So it’s not as simple as just coming back. And some of us had jobs lined up for after school.”
There are other details to iron out, the biggest of them being Ivy League eligibility rules that are different from the NCAA. But if Ierlan does come back, he is sure of one thing.
“I’m not going to play anywhere else,” he said. “If I play again, it’ll be at Yale.”
That’s at least half a sigh of relief for the Yale program, which was 3-1 this spring when the season was cancelled. Ierlan transferred to the program after playing two seasons with the University at Albany. There, he made an immediate impact as one of the nation’s top faceoff midfielders, continuing and even advancing the reputation he built for himself in high school, where he helped the Blue Devils win two state championships.
The faceoff dominance has continued at Yale, where even if he doesn’t play another game, Ierlan is the NCAA’s career leader in faceoff wins (1,159), ground balls (810) and faceoff winning percentage (75.3%). He was a finalist for the Tewaaraton Trophy last year and on this year's watch list.
Ierlan said he would like to return for another season at Yale, but the opportunity goes beyond his own personal decision. Currently, the Ivy League does not allow fifth-year graduate students to play sports and Ierlan is on track to graduate this spring.
There are ways around that, as Cornell’s Rob Pannell showed in 2012 when he was injured early in the season. Pannell ended up withdrawing from school and re-enrolling for the spring semester of 2013 so he could play for the Big Red.
Ierlan may not have to take that route, however. Ierlan said the Ivy League is currently re-visiting that rule but no decision has been announced.
Until that decision is reached, Ierlan is at home in Victor taking on-line courses as a senior political science major. And as he keeps busy with studies, he can’t help but think about how suddenly the world around us has changed.
“I’m just doing as much as I can to keep busy,” he said. “It’s obviously weird. For us in lacrosse, everyone’s usually at each other’s throats during the year and now it’s like everyone’s sympathizing with each other. It’s tough to have it all taken right out of your hands.
“It’s the right decision (to cancel the season), but at the same time, it still sucks.”