The 2020 college sports calendar was abruptly halted to protect against the coronavirus. Fans across the nation are still processing the sudden shock.
On Tuesday evening USA Today columnist Dan Wolken penned what was, at the time, an incomprehensible edict: cancel the NCAA Tournament. The reaction on social media was far-ranging. Some called him a fearmonger. Others praised his advocacy. But at some level all of us wondered… could he be right?
Less than 48 hours later, Wolken was right. There will be no NCAA Tournament. There won’t even be a Conference USA Basketball Tournament — not a complete one. Players and fans were sent home from Frisco after one day of the scheduled four-day tournament had been completed.
Rice women’s basketball had dressed for the game. They were ready to play through the maelstrom of uncertainty. Then they were sent back to the locker room. The game was over. The season was over. For some, like senior guard and two-time Conference USA Player of the Year Erica Ogwumike, their careers were over.
All within 48 hours.
And it didn’t stop there. Conferences began to indefinitely postpone all spring athletics. Conference USA followed suit, halting the Rice baseball season in its tracks. The remainder of the spring sports were put on hiatus and soon after classes were moved online for the remainder of the semester. The NBA, NHL and MLB all delayed their seasons, too.
Then the NCAA announced that all spring championships were canceled. From March Madness — which was purportedly to be played without fans as a last-ditch, stopgap measure — to the College World Series in the summer. All of it. Gone. Done. Poof.
It should go without saying that the health and safety of student athletes, their families, coaches and all athletic staff personnel, is of the utmost importance. The “why” behind these cancelations is far from unconscionable. But the anguish, the disappointment, is going to last for a long time.
This fallout from these nation-shaking decisions is far from over. Eligibility questions will linger as the country readies itself for a global pandemic with no tournaments to distract them, to salve the harder days. What happens to seniors, some of which had just begun their spring seasons? Will there be waivers and how does that impact rosters for next year? Will the NCAA reach an equitable middle ground?
We don’t know.
Frankly, those three words sum up the last three days more succinctly than anything else. But the sun will rise tomorrow. Life will continue, with or without sports. It will undoubtedly take weeks to wrap our minds around what is happening in our world right now.
Rice Athletics will move forward and so will The Roost. We’re working through some contingency plans when it comes to content. We have some ideas and we’d love to get your input on what sort of things you’d be interested in reading in the coming weeks. Please leave us a comment on the forum or message us on social media and let us know. Today is a hard day, but we’ll make it through.