Vanderbilt’s Parker Noland, Kumar Rocker and Tim Corbin press conference after NC State baseball game at the College World Series on June 25, 2021.
Much of the Wolfpack was asleep on the east coast when NC State baseball’s season came to a bitter end at 2:10 a.m ET, following an already disheartening day in Omaha.
The NCAA announced early Saturday morning the 1 p.m. College World Series game between Vanderbilt and NC State would be ruled a no-contest due to COVID-19 protocols.
“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 NCAA said in a statement.
NCAA Statement from Division I Baseball Committee:
The NCAA Division I Baseball Committee has declared the Vanderbilt-NC State Men’s College World Series game scheduled for Saturday, June 26 at 1 p.m. Central time a no-contest because of COVID-19 protocols. #CWSpic.twitter.com/amxdQwkQ6l
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) June 26, 2021
NC State athletics director Boo Corrigan released a statement Saturday morning and said the last 24 hours have been “extremely difficult” for everyone involved.
“The health and safety of our student-athletes and staff will always be our unwavering priority. The timing of this is simply devastating for everyone involved, but it doesn’t diminish their incredible accomplishments this season,” Corrigan said.
A statement from Director of Athletics Boo Corrigan on @NCStateBaseball: pic.twitter.com/Ai3ReKvB0s
— NC State Athletics (@PackAthletics) June 26, 2021
Former NFL linebacker Emmanuel Acho shared his distaste for the decision to make an announcement at the time the NCAA did.
“The #NCAA declaring NC State unable to play thus advancing Vanderbilt to the #CWS finals, is trash. Doing so at 2:15am on the east coast is low even for the NCAA,” he tweeted.
The #NCAA declaring NC State unable to play thus advancing Vanderbilt to the #CWS finals, is trash. Doing so at 2:15am on the east coast is low even for the NCAA. https://t.co/fZk4rZHJYr
— Emmanuel Acho (@EmmanuelAcho) June 26, 2021
The announcement comes after Vanderbilt defeated shorthanded NC State 3-1, who played Friday with nine position players and four pitchers — all the Wolfpack had available.
“This team was one win away from its first-ever trip to the Finals,” D1Baseball co-editor Aaron Fitt tweeted. “To have it end with a “no contest” is just excruciating.”
The cancellation of NC State’s baseball season brings sour memories of past NCAA Championship runs cut short due to COVID-19 in the past year — VCU men’s basketball and Notre Dame hockey to name a few.
NC State Baseball joins VCU Men’s Basketball, Notre Dame Men’s Hockey, Michigan Men’s Hockey, and Rice Women’s Volleyball in teams having to drop out of their NCAA Tournaments for COVID protocols this year. Here’s hoping we never have a year like this again.
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) June 26, 2021
According to D1Baseball.com, two NC State players, who were not vaccinated, tested positive for COVID-19 this week. Per COVID-19 protocol, the entire roster was tested and four came back positive. These four positive tests were from vaccinated individuals present in the dugout Friday.
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Following Friday night’s game, NC State baseball coach Elliott Avent said it wasn’t his place to tell his 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.”
North Carolina State head coach Elliott Avent talks with others in the dugout during a COVID-19 protocol delay before playing against Vanderbilt during a baseball game in the College World Series, Friday, June 25, 2021, at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo/Rebecca S. Gratz) (Photo: Rebecca S. Gratz, AP)
After the NCAA dropped its decision early Saturday morning, Mississippi State’s Tanner Allen tweeted his sympathy for the Wolfpack, shortly after the Bulldogs fell 8-5 to Texas on Friday.
“I can’t even imagine what they are going through right now. Worked their whole lives for a chance at a National Championship and in a blink of an eye it’s gone,” Allen tweeted. “Has to be the most helpless feeling in the world!”
Hats off to those NC State boys…I can’t even imagine what they are going through right now. Worked their whole lives for a chance at a National Championship and in a blink of an eye it’s gone. Has to be the the most helpless feeling in the world!
— Tanner Allen (@Tanner_Allen10) June 26, 2021
CBS Sports analyst Danny Kanell mirrored Allen’s sentiment.
“Players who had one season canceled already- now a magical run canceled. Ripped out of their grasp by something out of their control. Gutted,” he said.
Struggling how to process this news out of Omaha. Feel awful for NC State. I can’t imagine what is going through the minds of the seniors. Players who had one season canceled already- now a magical run canceled. Ripped out of their grasp by something out of their control. Gutted
— Danny Kanell (@dannykanell) June 26, 2021
Furthermore, WBIR-TV reporter David Schiele thought of how the Wolfpack would feel when they woke up.
“The news they’re going to wake up to…smh. Wow,” he said.
I can only imagine that there’s a good number of NC State players, staff and fans who are asleep right now.
The news they’re going to wake up to…smh. Wow.
— David Schiele WBIR (@Deacon_Schiele) June 26, 2021
The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach called the situation embarrassing on the NCAA’s part.
“The NCAA owes everybody involved in this embarrassing and disappointing ordeal much more of an explanation than this,” she said.
She added, “The same thing happened with VCU at March Madness. The NCAA was silent about what happened and what triggered the no-contest. It is their policy and they are the ones working with local health departments. Explain it. It’s not a HIPAA violation to explain what happened.”
The same thing happened with VCU at March Madness. The NCAA was silent about what happened and what triggered the no-contest. It is their policy and they are the ones working with local health departments. Explain it. It’s not a HIPAA violation to explain what happened.
— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) June 26, 2021
On the other side, WFLA political reporter Evan Donovan said NC State’s outcome in the College World Series was “tragically avoidable.”
NC State out of the CWS is tragically avoidable, but here’s the leadership that put them in this position.
Let’s be clear — getting vaccinated is not a *political* decision, it’s a *public health* one.
And if you run an organization, it’s a critical onehttps://t.co/CQwYH9Qwknpic.twitter.com/sWQ5rewJri
— Evan Donovan (@EvanDonovan) June 26, 2021
Kanell later tweeted at the NCAA, criticizing its game-day protocol.
“You won’t let NC State players continue to play but you’ll allow 23,000 untested, unvaccinated, and potential unmasked fans attend??? What about player safety? Oh wait…that’s not truly what your protocols are about are they?” he said.
Hey @ncaa you won’t let NC State players continue to play but you’ll allow 23,000 untested, unvaccinated, and potential unmasked fans attend??? What about player safety? Oh wait…that’s not truly what your protocols are about are they? pic.twitter.com/ffr0gwV3I1
— Danny Kanell (@dannykanell) June 26, 2021
With NC State ruled out of the College World Series, Vanderbilt advanced to the final and will play either Texas or Mississippi State following Saturday’s winner-take-all game.
Daniella Medina is a digital producer for the USA TODAY Network. Follow her on Twitter @danimedinanews.
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