The NCAA canceled all remaining spring and winter championships, including the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, on Thursday due to the threat of the coronavirus.
“This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities,” the NCAA said in a statement.
Among the people who expressed their emotions over social media was Oregon women’s basketball coach Kelly Graves, whose Ducks were Pac-12 champions and poised to be a No. 1 seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament.
Graves posted a series of photos that included his entire team and the outgoing seniors, including Sabrina Ionescu, the espnW Player of the Year who opted to return to Oregon for her senior season citing “unfinished business.”
“It appears our ‘unfinished business’ will remain just that,” Graves wrote. “Disappointed but I completely understand. I love & I hurt for my team.”
It appears our ‘unfinished business’ will remain just that. Disappointed but I completely understand. I love & I hurt for my team❤️ pic.twitter.com/jL5LZ6ZwVT
— Kelly Graves (@GoDucksKG) March 12, 2020
Individual athletes and teams also expressed their sadness. UCLA gymnast Madison Kocian won’t have a chance to complete her senior season on her terms. Louisiana pitcher Megan Kleist sat out last season upon transferring and saw this season cut short. Louisville’s Jordan Nwora, Kansas’ Devon Dotson and Duke’s Tre Jones all won’t be playing for a national title.
no words. can’t believe it’s over just like that. https://t.co/22AfHRltpL
— Madison Kocian (@MadisonKocian) March 12, 2020
Give a hug to your nearest softball player😢
— Megan Kleist (@MeganKleist) March 13, 2020
This is tough for real 💔
— Jordan Nwora (@JordanNwora) March 12, 2020
— Devon Dotson⚡️ (@d_dotson1) March 12, 2020
Doesn’t seem real still… 😪 https://t.co/PUMxThVMgC
— Tre Jones (@Tre3Jones) March 12, 2020
Geo Baker, a junior guard for Rutgers’ men’s basketball team, wrote, “I have no idea if our last game as a unit has passed but i know that this year has been truly special.” Seton Hall senior Myles Powell needed six words to express himself: “Dear Seton Hall, I love you.”
1991/2020 ❤️🤞 pic.twitter.com/obFwCU3Ais
— Geo Baker (@Geo_Baker_1) March 12, 2020
Dear Seton Hall,
I LOVE YOU 🙏🏾💙💫 pic.twitter.com/bc83XWnlMo
— Myles Powell (@Myles_MBP_23) March 12, 2020
Arizona’s women’s basketball team was also in the midst of a special season. The Wildcats were projected to make their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2005, and coach Adia Barnes had to break the news to her team that it won’t have the chance to compete in the Big Dance.
I just had to tell my team that our season is over. Just like that. We worked so hard. We were getting ready to host in the NCAA Tourney, we had not been there in 15 years.
— ADIA BARNES 🐻⬇️🌵🌞 (@AdiaBarnes) March 12, 2020
Hofstra, which clinched the Colonial Athletic Association title on Tuesday, was set to return to its first NCAA tournament since 2001. The Pride reacted with a simple emoji.
— Hofstra Men’s Basketball (@HofstraMBB) March 12, 2020
Auburn’s Bruce Pearl and Arizona State’s Bobby Hurley were among the men’s basketball coaches who hoped the NCAA would still hold a Selection Sunday to give the teams that would have made the NCAA tournament a chance to celebrate their accomplishments.
I respect the NCAA’s decision to put everyone’s safety first. That said, every team deserves recognition for their season’s success. Brackets should still be announced on Selection Sunday.
— Bobby Hurley (@BobbyHurley11) March 12, 2020
Skyler Wetzel, a junior running back for Baylor’s football team, suggested the NCAA give seniors an extra year of eligibility, a notion that was echoed by UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford.
Give winter & spring sport seniors another year of eligibility. https://t.co/bPMtTrQsIz
— Skyler Wetzel (@skylerwetzel6) March 12, 2020
Thinking about our winter & spring athletes & coaches that are seeing their seasons end w/ the NCAA news. No one likes things they can’t control & these decisions are gut-wrenching.
To our spring sport seniors: in time, we will fight to reinstate your final year of eligibility.
— Ryan Bamford (@UMassADBamford) March 12, 2020