COVID-19 continues to plague college basketball.
Saturday’s first-round NCAA men’s basketball tournament match-up between No. 7 seed Oregon and No. 10 seed VCU was declared a no-contest after the Rams received several positive COVID tests, ESPN reports.
In a statement, VCU head coach Mike Rhoades explained that the tests came during a 48 hour period. He didn’t specify if students or personnel tested positive, but the team flew home on Saturday night with those who tested positive traveling separately.
Initially, the NCAA consulted the Marion County, Indiana Public Health Department and postponed the game. Yet, they then decided to declare it a no-contest about three hours before tip-off.
“We knew about the positives being confirmed today, and we were hoping through contact tracing we would still be able to play tonight, but obviously that did not happen,” VCU athletic director Ed McLaughlin said per ESPN. “This has all happened pretty quickly, in terms of the positives that we’ve had … The feeling that the committee, from what was communicated to me, given how we had a few happen within the short period of time right now, there was certainly concern, not only for the rest of our team and for opponents and anyone else who would be part of the game going forward.”
“The NCAA and the committee regret that VCU’s student-athletes and coaching staff will not be able to play in a tournament in which they earned the right to participate,” the NCAA added in its own separate statement.
This is the second year in a row that COVID has cut VCU’s season short. Last year, the Atlantic 10 tournament was canceled just minutes before the team was set to play its first-round game against UMass.
“It just stinks,” Rhoades said. “I can’t sugarcoat it.”
VCU’s exit is the first NCAA tournament game canceled or declared a no-contest due to COVID-19 issues. The Ducks head coach Dana Altman still congratulated VCU on a great season.
“We hate to see a team’s season end this way after all the hard work these student-athletes have put in,” he said. “This isn’t the way we wanted to advance, but we are excited to be moving on and we will start our preparation for Monday’s game.”
Oregon will now advance to play No. 2 Iowa on Monday. All bets placed on the Rams-Ducks game will be refunded.