Coronavirus cancellations are in full swing, and Thursday, March 12 was one of the most unprecedented days in sports history. No professional or collegiate sports league was safe.
From the NBA and MLB to the NCAA and SEC, the COVID-19 pandemic affected every single one of them. It took away the NCAA Tournament and conference tournaments like the SEC Tournament from eager fans, but it’s also stolen parts of senior athletes’ seasons. Many of these seniors are now left wondering: Now what?
For the first time since 1939, no college basketball tournaments will be played.
The NCAA hastily canceled all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships, meaning that even if SEC baseball and softball regular season play resumes, teams won’t have the opportunity to play in the College World Series and Women’s College World Series.
The Southeastern Conference, however, has the autonomy to resume regular season play and allow teams to play for a SEC championship. No one knows if or when that will happen. Still, no national champion will be crowned.
UF Athletes React to NCAA Championship Cancellations
Athletes across the SEC and the rest of the country were shocked, devastated and heartbroken to learn their careers had come to a close because of coronavirus concerns.
The University of Florida Gators especially felt that. The Florida basketball team was preparing for the SEC men’s basketball tournament in Nashville and making college basketball waves in March Madness. Senior Kerry Blackshear’s career is over for Gators men’s basketball.
Florida gymnastics, which was 10-0 and ranked No. 2 in the country, won’t have the opportunity to win a national championship. Top-10 teams like UF men’s tennis and women’s swimming and dive also fell in the same boat.
The NCAA’s decision might not have hit any teams harder than Florida’s baseball and softball teams. The Gators were ranked No. 1 in college baseball and set to take on the No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs. No. 7 Florida softball just beat rival Florida State and was set for a top-25 showdown against Baylor.
Senior Austin Langworthy, born and raised in nearby Williston, had trouble grasping his team wouldn’t be playing in the College World Series. He was a freshman when Florida won a national title in 2017.
UF softball senior Kendyl Lindaman, an All-American who transferred from Minnesota in 2019, never got a shot at bringing a title to Gainesville.
Langworthy and Lindaman aren’t the only seniors who are feeling this way. Many are wondering why the NCAA apparently canceled tournaments that don’t take place until June. Who knows what the status of the virus will be by then?
For now, play is suspended until further notice, the SEC said in a release:
“Based on the latest developments and the continued spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Southeastern Conference today announced the suspension of regular season competition for teams in all sports on SEC campuses, as well SEC championship events, until March 30.
This does not apply to teams and individuals in NCAA competition, at this time.
The SEC reminds everyone to be attentive to everyday preventive actions identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov).”
You have to feel for the senior who have put their time and sweat into these programs. For their last season to be snatched away in a sense is heartbreaking.