NC State vs. The NCAA (Again)
Head coach Elliot Avent explained that "I definitely think we've done enough to be in the NCAA Tournament” and "I had thought we were already in, but obviously you never know.”
NC State baseball truly revealed these feelings in a tweet that simply read “Criminal.” Users commented under the post with responses like “You’ve got to be kidding” and “Wow. WHAT A JOKE,” suggesting that much like the team, the Wolfpack community was also critical of the NCAA’s choice.
Boo Corrigan, the NC State athletic director, commented in an interview with USA TODAY that he was “shocked and disappointed that our baseball team did not receive a bid to the NCAA Tournament. We hurt for our student-athletes and coaches who worked so hard and who we believe deserved this opportunity.”
Mike Buddie, the NCAA Division I Baseball Committee Chair explained the decision in an interview with ESPN. Buddie stated "N.C. State, that was a brutal one. It was minuscule differences but when it gets down to that time of the selection, a minuscule difference can sometimes make the difference." Buddie explained that it was also NC State’s non-conference schedule and its record during the ACC tournament that led to the NCAA’s choice to not include them in the tournament. Florida State, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest are the other ACC teams that will be competing in the tournament. This makes for nine teams competing despite projections that assumed there would be a ten-team bid. Buddie also mentioned that it was between the University of Mississippi and NC State but ultimately due to the above reasons, Ole Miss beat the Wolfpack. Some among the Wolfpack community argue that the NCAA committee seemed to put down the ACC conference despite the argument that the conference is one of the strongest in college baseball, only second to the SEC. They believe that this may have been, at least in part, the reason for the tournament snub.
History Repeating Itself
This all occurred only a year after NC State was removed from the College World Series in Omaha due to Covid-19 concerns. Head coach Avent remarked that there was a lack of communication between the tournament organizers and the team. Avent explained that “quite frankly I have no understanding of what happened today…I have no idea what's going on. Zero. You know as much as I do. OK? It just hasn't been communicated."
The Wolfpack had advanced to the semifinals beating Stanford and Vanderbilt. They outhit Vanderbilt in the 8-6 game and had two chances to get another victory over them before the game was ruled a no contest. The announcement was made only 12 hours before both teams were meant to hit the field. Vanderbilt’s head coach Tim Corbin explained that "I understand the other side. I do. We're very empathetic and sympathetic to that. But we have no control over that, regardless of what anyone insinuates or what anyone says."
Anthony Holman, the NCAA's managing director of championships and alliances explained to ESPN that teams have been sent home due to Covid-19 several times before but none of the exits had been so dramatic as NC State’s. The issue first began with an assistant coach and a few players testing positive for Covid-19. Contract tracing was then done and a player was quarantined and then cleared to take the field. Yet, the morning of the rematch with Vanderbilt the player tested positive along with two others. The game was delayed but eventually, 13 vaccinated players were cleared to play. After the game finished the team was given PCR tests and several other individuals tested positive. Then early in the morning, a decision was made and NC State found out that they were going home.
NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson along with Boo Corrigan then sent a letter on July 1st to NCAA President Mark Emmert and other NCAA officials following the team’s June 26th disqualification. NC State officials explained that the timing of the decision was insensitive to the players who found out about it only hours before they were set to play. They also called out the lack of communication from the NCAA about how Covid-19 infections would be handled. Corrigan and Woodson explained that "we take full accountability for the positive results that led to our team's departure. However, we still have many significant concerns about the NCAA's handling of protocols and communications with our team and our university."
Woodson and Corrigan also noted that communication after the first player tested positive was "essentially non-existent" and that the event was a “deficit of coordination and communication.” Emmert responded to NC State that he was disappointed with how the tournament had ended for the team but that the NCAA had "very regular communication" with the university after the first positive Covid-19 test.
The recent news that NC State would not be included in the 2022 NCAA tournament is very reminiscent of the university’s disqualification from the College World Series in 2021. Because of this, the baseball world should keep a close eye on NC State’s relationship with the NCAA going forward.
Possible Meta Description: NC State will not be competing in the 2022 NCAA Division I baseball tournament only a year after their disqualification from the College World Series in 2021.
Author: Lindsey Pelliccia