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NCAA College World Series Canceled

NCAAWith the College World Series canceled by the NCAA today, Division I programs are split on whether to suspend regular-season play or cancel the rest of the season.

The NCAA today announced that the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments were canceled over coronavirus concerns, as well as all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships. That would include the men’s baseball championship tournament, capped by the College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha. The College World Series has been played in Omaha since 1950, and it’s a serious economic blow to have the event canceled. From the Omaha World-Herald:

[Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert] said the loss of this year’s event is a “severe blow” to Omaha’s economy, as past studies have put its economic impact on the city at about $70 million. But public health and public safety are the most important things, she said.

The people of CWS Inc., a non-profit organization that supports the event, were floored when the NCAA’s announcement was made Thursday afternoon.

“We’re very disappointed, but we’re supportive of the NCAA’s decision,” said Kathryn Morrissey, executive director of CWS Inc. “It was decided on the health and safety of student-athletes and fans, and we’re supportive of that.”

The NCAA statement announcing the cancellation was short and sweet:

Today, NCAA President Mark Emmert and the Board of Governors canceled the Division I men’s and women’s 2020 basketball tournaments, as well as all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships. 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.

However, in a challenging twist to an amazing situation, the NCAA did not cancel the regular season for college baseball, with conferences planning out their own path. Given that there’s no NCAA championship at the end of the rainbow, some conferences are opting to suspend play for now, while others are totally scrapping spring sports. The Big Ten, for example, canceled all spring sports:

The Big Ten Conference announced today that in addition to the Men’s Basketball Tournament it will be canceling all conference and non-conference competitions through the end of the academic year, including spring sports that compete beyond the academic year, and participation in all NCAA tournaments and competitions. In addition, the Conference has announced a moratorium on all on- and off-campus recruiting activities for the foreseeable future.

The Big Ten Conference will use this time to work with the appropriate medical experts and institutional leadership to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Conference USA and Mountain West Conference, among others, also canceled their 2020 baseball seasons.

Other major conferences, including the SEC and the ACC, announced a suspension of play. For the SEC, it means a suspension of regular season competition for teams in all sports on SEC campuses, as well SEC championship events, until March 30. The Pac-12, meanwhile, announced a cancellation of play indefinitely, while the Big 12 suspended all regular-season competitions, on- and off-campus recruiting, and out-of-season practices until Sunday, March 29.

There are a slew of questions that need to be addressed, and we’re guessing the many conferences suspending play are waiting to hear the answers from the NCAA before deciding to move ahead with the season. For instance: how will canceled seasons affect player eligibility? In the Big Ten, for example, teams were in the nonconference portion of the schedule, and you could see seniors end their eligibility without a final year of conference play. (The questions over eligibility extends to the summer-collegiate realm.) Similarly, how will this affect scholarships in coming years? There are a whole raft of issues to be addressed in coming weeks.

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