UNC Star Fiona Crawley Forgoes US Open Prize Money to Keep NCAA Eligibility: 'It Seems Unreal'

Crawley faced a first-round loss to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on Tuesday night

<p>Mike Lawrence/USTA via AP</p> Fiona Crawley at 2023 US Open

Mike Lawrence/USTA via AP

Fiona Crawley at 2023 US Open

Fiona Crawley is staying motivated after her run at the US Open, despite forgoing over $80,000 in prize money to keep her NCAA eligibility.

Reaching the main draw of the US Open allowed Crawley to collect $81,000 in prize money, according to The News & Observer, which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill athlete will not collect.

“I would never take the money and never risk my eligibility, but I worked my butt off this week and it seems unreal that there are football and basketball players making millions in NIL deals, and I can’t take the money that I worked so hard for,” she said, per the outlet.

Related: Unique Rules You Didn't Know US Open Players and Spectators Must Follow

According to the NCAA's amateurism bylaws, tennis athletes are only able to collect prize money "if it does not exceed $10,000 per calendar year and comes from the sponsor of the event."

"Once the $10,000 limit is reached, additional prize money may not exceed actual and necessary expenses for each subsequent event in the calendar year," the bylaws explain.

Crawley, 21, faced a first-round loss to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on Tuesday night, 6-2, 6-4, after winning three qualifying matches last week.

"I've dreamed about this moment for so long ... since I was 5 years old and old enough to know what the US Open was," she said in an interview posted to the tennis tournament's website before her main draw debut.

"After the match, when I finished, I definitely was in shock. I've had a day and night to process it, and I'm still definitely in shock," she said. "I feel like I won't really digest it until I'm about to serve or return the first point of my first [main-draw] match."

Related: Michelle Obama Honors Billie Jean King During Surprise Speech at US Open: 'Speak Out and Fight'

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Crawley has been a rising star at the collegiate level, winning multiple awards, including being named the 2023 ITA National Player of the Year and receiving the 2023 ACC Player of the Year award. 

According to her bio on the university's website, Crawley learned how to play tennis in Japan between the ages of 6 and 9.

<p>Pete Staples/USTA via AP</p> Fiona Crawley at US Open

Pete Staples/USTA via AP

Fiona Crawley at US Open

On Thursday, she and teammate Carson Tanguilig fell short in the women's doubles competition losing to Irina Khromacheva and Daria Saville 2-6, 2-6.

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