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Draconian measures to abate Coronavirus are painful but necessary

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Thank goodness, Florida State had the foresight.

At the time, it seemed a bit over the top. Leonard Hamilton climbing the ladder to cut down the net. 

It looked odd not because a 71-year-old man should never be on a ladder but because Hamilton is the last guy you would ever expect to engage in a net-cutting ceremony with games still to play.

FSU’s win over Boston College clinched the program’s first-ever, regular season Atlantic Coast Conference Championship and prompted the celebration.

Little did we know at the time, the net-cutting win would in fact be the Seminoles’ last game of the season.

Nor could we ever imagine it would clinch an ACC Tournament Championship five days later.

It had to be surreal. 

The Seminoles were in the locker room, in Greensboro, preparing to play Clemson in front of 20,000 empty seats. Unbeknownst to them, ACC officials were in meetings deciding to cancel the remainder of the prestigious tournament. 

When the Seminoles made their way to the court it was not to play a game in the empty arena but, stranger yet, to accept the ACC Tournament Championship trophy. 

ACC Commissioner John Swofford, obviously beleaguered after days of meetings, looked for a Florida State player, or coach, anybody, to present the coveted trophy. 

The players looked bewildered. For a moment, I wondered if anyone would take the trophy, which is only the second ACC Tournament the Seminoles have “won” since they joined in 1992.

It was awkward.

I certainly didn’t see anyone drink champagne from the trophy, or lock lips with it, and no tears of joy. 

The tears would come later when the players were told the NCAA tournament had been cancelled. 

There would be no home-court advantage in Tampa. There wouldn’t even be a game. 

Devin Vassell’s four-word tweet said it all: “The season is over.”

Which brings me back to the net-cutting ceremony in Tallahassee five days earlier, which turned out to be the final game of the season.

Thank goodness, Florida State had the foresight to give this team their “one shining moment.”

No competition, no practice, no recruiting for now

I hate it for the student-athletes. I hate it for the fans. And I hate it for me.

But I get it. 

And so do a lot of others. 

Walt Disney World. Broadway. The NBA, PGA, NHL, MLB, MLS are all adopting similar “best practice” policies. They are doing it, at a great loss of revenue, in an effort to abate the transmission of COVID-19, a strain of the Coronavirus. 

We are seeing the nation coming together individually in an effort to minimize the spread of the virus.

The NCAA and its members are shuttering operations too. The ACC and SEC are among the conferences who have suspended the remainder of winter and all spring competition. The NCAA suspended all NCAA tournaments in the remaining winter and spring sports.

NCAA President Mark Emmert explained the reason for cancelling the tournaments. “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 last sentence of his statement is something the average person doesn’t think about. How do do you host a tournament anywhere when individual states are suspending gatherings. Like many other states, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis suspended gatherings of 250 people or more.

The ACC and the SEC has gone a step or two further. The conference has “suspended all athletic-related activities including all competition, formal and organized practice, recruiting and participation in NCAA championships until further notice.” 

In other words, FSU fans are quarantined from Seminole sports.

 At one time, we thought the suspensions might mean teams could play the games but the fans couldn’t gather to watch. The new decision goes all the way to no games at all.

The SEC has adopted a similar suspension through March 30. 

The ACC and SEC are in conversation with the NCAA to standardize the practice and recruiting suspension across all collegiate programs. Stand by as that could be the next foot to fall.

The ACC suspension of formal or organized practice means coaches cannot assemble players for a practice. However, the players are free to work out with the strength coach. They also may practice informally, without coaches.

Will the NCAA standardize these actions?

The SEC has not, as of yet, restricted practice but that could soon change if the NCAA standardizes a policy. 

The ACC policy for no practice extends to spring football but the SEC policy does not. The SEC is leaving spring football practice up to the discretion of its member schools. Again, this is fluid and the NCAA could mandate these suspensions across all conferences. If the NCAA does not act, the ACC and SEC could choose to terminate their policy. It is fluid.

I would imagine Mike Norvell and FSU Athletic Director David Coburn have met on this already. Norvell’s team, which has had three practices, desperately needs these practice days. While Dabo Sweeney, who has an established program, may want spring practice. Norvell needs spring practice in order to catch up. Fortunately, FSU goes on spring break this week so it is possible the ACC could modify this while they are away. Or not. Stay tuned.

Why no practice? 

“This is uncharted territory and the health and safety of our student-athletes and institutions remains our top priority,” ACC Commissioner John Swafford said in a prepared statement. “This decision is aimed to protect from the further spread of COVID-19.” 

When Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive, it shook the NBA. When the second Jazz player, Donovan Mitchell, tested positive, the transmit ability of the virus became real and shook college coaches – Kansas and Duke to name two – who withdrew from the NCAA tournament, which put pressure on the NCAA, essentially their league office, to act. 

Others have said the Utah Jazz became an example of what can happen within a team and led the National Hockey League, Major League Soccer, Major League Baseball and the PGA to suspend tournaments. 

No recruiting surprised me

Both the ACC and SEC implemented restrictions on recruiting travel as well suspending off campus travel and on-campus visits. 

The university is restricting all travel to abate transmission. Even students who choose to go home for the weekend are asked to quarantine themselves for two weeks and not attend classes. 

Therefore, the ACC and SEC – at least – will restrict coaches to campus and suspend prospect visits.

The SEC’s suspension is until March 30 while the ACC’s is “until further notice.”  

Don’t get too hung up on any of these semantics, as the words “until further notice” gives the ACC unlimited flexibility. And I wouldn’t get too hung up about other conferences which have not self-imposed restrictions. As I said earlier, the NCAA could act at any time or the ACC could walk back there’s.

FSU feels the impact in ways they never expected. It will take time to figure some of it out, like ticket refunds for baseball or softball. They may need to wait to see how many baseball or softball games will be played, if any, before they can figure out refunds.

Seminole Booster events are also affected. The university will comply with Governor Ron DeSantis suspension of gatherings “until further notice.” 

These decisions could affect the spring game and the Spring Seminole Booster tour, which we will monitor and communicate. 

Comments

  1. Gregory SperryReply

    Not happy about this mess hopefully we can get the spring game in as we were looking forward to seeing Coach Norvell and what he puts on the field plus the concert

    • Cheri GreeneReply

      I think I saw something from school that said spring game and Doak after Dark was cancelled.

  2. Dan DensmoreReply

    I actually understand cancelling all the sporting events and I really feel for the seniors especially, but where do you think all these athletes and students are going for spring break? I can guarantee they are not hanging around the dorms in Tallahassee. Why are all the public schools still open in Florida? Mind-boggling that Disney was still open yesterday, but since they are the parent company of ESPN, they had no choice but to close their doors. Hopefully this country weathers this. That is all

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