VCU removed from NCAA Tournament due to COVID-19 protocols; Oregon advances
A new brand of chaos took hold in the NCAA Tournament on Saturday, a kind that was both shocking and perhaps inevitable, courtesy of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The news came mere hours before Oregon was scheduled to take on Virginia Commonwealth in a first-round matchup. The game won't be played after all, as 10-seed VCU was pulled from the tournament because of COVID-19 protocols.
The 7-seed Ducks advance to the second round automatically in a no-contest.
Details were unclear at the outset, with the NCAA citing privacy concerns. In a statement, the NCAA merely said:
"This decision was made in consultation with the Marion County Public Health Department. 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."
While the NCAA was tight-lipped, VCU coach Mike Rhoades said his team received multiple positive tests within the program.
"We’ve been tested every day for the past three weeks, but within the past 48 hours, we’ve received multiple positive tests," he said. "We are devastated for our players and coaches. It has been a dream for all of us to play in the NCAA Tournament."
VCU had issues with COVID-19 earlier in the season. The Rams were forced to stop team activities on Jan. 2 because of a positive test within the program, which led their game against Davidson to be postponed. Their season resumed just two days later, and they hadn't had any further issues until Saturday.
Oregon also dealt with COVID-19 interruptions this season. At one point, the Ducks had just five practices and one game in a 26-day stretch. They had two games canceled this season, including one against fellow NCAA Tournament team UCLA that was postponed three times.