NCAA’s Decision to Cancel Championships Makes No Sense
Mark Emmert Announced the NCAA's Cancellation of All Spring Sporting Events and 14 Championships (photo: USA TODAY Sports)
Fans were disappointed to hear Thursday that the NCAA had cancelled the NCAA Basketball Tournaments along with all sporting events and championships due to spreading of the coronavirus. Players and coaches were blindsided by the news. Like so many other past NCAA decisions, this move just doesn’t make sense.
While all Auburn’s athletic teams were dismayed by the announcement, it probably hit Auburn’s basketball team the hardest. Coach Bruce Pearl said there was some anger when his players got the news while in Nashville getting ready to play Friday night. “There were a couple of heads down and some tears. We had five seniors who worked to be seeded second in this tournament.”
The Tigers have been ranked in the Top 25 for 21 weeks and are the defending SEC Tournament Champions. The seniors have amassed the most wins in a four-year period in Auburn history. With 55 wins in the past two years, this team had a chance to break the record (56) set by the last two teams. It was a great season stolen by mass hysteria caused by the corona virus.
There will be no SEC championship this year, no March Madness, no opportunity for Auburn to make a return trip to the final four, and no opportunity to make a statement that it has joined the nation’s elite. After so much training, playing, and preparation, the season didn’t end; it was just stopped. The players have a right to feel robbed.
And the College World Series has also been nixed—but why? It’s held in June. Surely the threat will be over by then. Even if it’s not, the decision could be made when the date gets a little closer— not three months out.
What about spring football? Auburn practices were set to begin Monday, however, that has been put on hold. The Tigers planned to practice every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday for the first three weeks, culminating with an April 11 A-Day game. At present that doesn’t look likely.
This writer understands the need for caution when the CDC warns against large crowds. However, what I can’t understand is why the NCAA couldn’t take a wait-and-see approach, and, possibly, postpone the NCAA Tournaments till April or even May. If the threat is still there in a month or two, then a decision could be made at that time to cancel all championships.
The student athletes deserve better. They not only deserve protection from a health threat but also more consideration for all they have sacrificed to play their sport.
What would it have hurt to have issued postponements instead of abruptly ending the careers of many college seniors? While the NCAA has a history of making ill advised announcements, none have made less sense than this decision.