Spring cancellations leave unanswered questions

While the calling off of the NCAA's winter championships, including the men's and women's basketball tournaments, due to the coronavirus outbreak got most of the attention Thursday, the cancellation of its spring sports raised way more questions.

The majority of the winter seasons had already been completed. Sure, there were still tickets to be punched and exciting tournaments to play out, but that equated just a few extra games for some teams. Most had already wrapped things up.

Springs sports, on the other hand, had just gotten started. The Niagara University baseball and softball teams, for example, hadn't even played a game in New York State.

The NCAA will have its hands full answering questions in the upcoming weeks. NU baseball coach Rob McCoy raised a few.

Will the abrupt "season" burn a full year of a scholarship? If not, will the NCAA create expand rosters to create openings for freshmen who have already committed for next season?


"Hopefully the NCAA will do the right thing and guys who want to play more, they can play more," McCoy said.

The NU baseball team was on its way to James Madison University in Virginia on Thursday when word came down of full-season cancellations. The Colonial Athletic Association, of which JMU is a member, cancelled its spring sports Thursday afternoon, and Niagara's Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference soon followed suit. The NCAA announced its complete cancellations a few hours later.

"Unfortunately, you kind of expect it," McCoy said. "When one shoe drops, you just wait for the other shoe. As soon as the Patriot League joined the Ivy League in cancelling everything, it was pretty clear that it was only a matter of time before we did the exact same thing."

McCoy said the MAAC's instructions included no formal or captains' practices. The conference wanted to make sure student-athletes did not feel the need to gather in a formal setting.

"I told my guys, this is a once-in-a-lifetime thing. It's just unfortunate that it's now," McCoy said. "It's never happened and will probably never happen again.

"But it's for the greater good. There's no question that we need to keep this thing down."

As of Thursday, the National Junior College Athletic Association had not cancelled its spring seasons. The Niagara County Community College baseball and softball teams were in Florida for their annual season-opening spring trips.

The New York State Public High School Athletic Association had also made no changes to spring sports.


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