This was an ugly week for the NCAA, and not just because it canceled the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. No, it was ugly because there was no uniform decision made regarding conference tournaments – and players, coaches and fans could have been put at risk.
The Ivy League canceled its tournament. Other leagues tried to proceed as planned. Some considered playing tournaments without spectators. Then, after almost every conference canceled its tournament, the Big East played one half of basketball Thursday.
Does the NCAA feel regret about its response – or lack thereof – to the coronavirus pandemic?
“I think there probably is if the NCAA is being honest,” CBSSports.com college basketball writer Kyle Boone told Shaun Morash and Andrew Bogusch, who were filling in as hosts of The DA Show. “The NBA was at the forefront of this decision. They immediately [suspended] the season as soon as one player tested positive for coronavirus. I think the NCAA really opened itself up. Not only did they play a game on Wednesday, they were continuing to play those games and proceeded as planned on Thursday as if NCAA Tournament games were going to be played and conference tournament games were going to be played. I think they decided that they wanted to just hold events without fans, but I think we know that just was not going to happen. That was not realistic. It felt like they were dragging their feet. Ultimately, they made the right decision, but it did feel like it was eight, 10, 24 hours too late. So I’m glad that they arrived at the decision that they did. It just felt like it took forever.”
The NCAA apparently did not communicate with individual conferences about the best course of action.
“I think that’s probably one of the most frustrating parts,” Boone said. “I’ve talked to people at Division I institutions that would normally be in contact with the NCAA regarding these types of decisions. Frankly, I was told there was no communication with the NCAA. It would have made things certainly a lot easier. [Thursday] was just a complete mess. We had cancellations for conference tournaments flowing in throughout the morning, and Creighton and St. John’s ended up playing one half of basketball in the Big East Tournament. Obviously that was not going to be finished. It could have been easily avoided. I think the NCAA probably should have made a decision the night before and went ahead and canceled all those games. But they left it up to each conference tournament. I think the NCAA could have avoided a lot of headaches and just went ahead and made the decision for everyone else.”