NC State DQ’d from College World Series
Stupid is as stupid does.
The North Carolina State Wolfpack baseball team has had its epic run through the College World Series upended by NCAA COVID-19 protocols.
ESPN (“NC State out of College World Series due to COVID-19 issues; Vanderbilt to finals“):
Eleven hours after NC State took the field at the College World Series with a depleted roster because of COVID-19-related issues, the Wolfpack found out their season was over.
Around 2 a.m. ET Saturday, the NCAA Division I baseball committee declared Saturday’s winner-take-all bracket final between NC State and Vanderbilt a no contest due to COVID-19 protocols, putting the Commodores into the CWS championship round.
Vanderbilt will face the winner of Saturday night’s bracket final between Texas and Mississippi State.
The NCAA said the decision to rule NC State out was based on the recommendation of the championship medical team and the Douglas County (Nebraska) Health Department.
“The NCAA and the committee regret that NC State’s student-athletes and coaching staff will not be able to continue in the championship in which they earned the right to participate,” the statement read. “Because of privacy issues, we cannot provide further details.”
As ESPN’s Peter Burns rightly notes, this is bad on so many levels. It’s bad for Wolfpack players, coaches, and fans. It’s bad for Vanderbilt, who backs into the championship and will therefore have any victory tainted. It’s also unfair to the Texas/Mississippi State winner, in that they’ll face a rested Vandy team.
But, of course, the natural question is “How did this happen?” We’re at the point where my 12-year-old is vaccinated. Surely, NC State—a big-time program in the Power 5 Atlantic Coast Conference—ensured that all its varsity athletes vaccinated?
Don’t even think about asking.
The unique situation turned the postgame news conference into a discussion about COVID-19 vaccinations for NC State coach Elliot Avent, who tried to avoid the topic.
“I’m not going to talk about that,” said Avent, when asked if he was vaccinated. “If you want to talk baseball, we can talk baseball. If you want to talk politics or stuff like that, you can go talk to my head of sports medicine Rob Murphy.”
Of course, the bigger issue was whether NC State players were vaccinated since some apparently tested positive for COVID-19. Avent — who said possible positive tests were “personal” — added that it wasn’t his place to tell players to get vaccinated.
“My job is to teach them baseball, make sure they get an education and keep them on the right track forward,” Avent said. “But I don’t try to indoctrinate my kids with my values or my opinions. Obviously, we talk about a lot of things, but these are young men that can make their own decisions. And that’s what they did.”
So, I’m going to take that as a No. And, further, proclaim that Avent should be fired before the team gets back from Omaha. I guarantee you that Alabama’s Nick Saban doesn’t see player safety and the viability of his team as either “political” or “personal.” A coach is a leader and a teacher. Avent should have gotten his players vaccinated and, at a minimum, ensured that those who either refused or were for some reason ineligible for the vaccine followed the proper protocols. Failure to do that is a dereliction of duty.