LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Student athletes at Florida Gulf Coast University say they were disappointed to learn the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) canceled all tournaments for the rest of the season due to coronavirus concerns.
Players on the women’s basketball team told reporters they felt robbed of the Atlantic Sun Conference (ASUN) championship game they were preparing to play in Sunday.
To celebrate their wins so far this season, they took turns cutting the basketball net inside of Alico Stadium Friday. That doesn’t happen until after a championship game is won. Even though they won’t get to that point this season, Ashli O’Neal grabbed the net, and did a dance with her team to push through her disappointment.
“it’s really an unbelievable feeling that we can’t finish what we’ve started,” she said.
O’Neal said she has a lot of decisions to make knowing that she might not get a shot at making it to the pro league because of the cancellations.
“I have to figure out how not to be a student athlete,” she said.
FGCU Athletic Director Ken Kavanagh told reporters at a press conference Friday ASUN voted for the women’s basketball team to win the automatic bid in Sunday’s game. So each player will receive a championship ring and their numbers will l be listed as champions on the school’s banner.
There’s still hope that softball will resume after ASUN meets on April 5th. Head coach David Deiros said he’s not sure, but he’s hoping for the best..
“I know there’s no championship, because that’s all the NCAA can mandate, but is our conference going to allow us to have some closure for our players this season,” he said.
Baseball coach Dave Tollett said while practice will go on for his team, a handful of his players are missing their shot to go pro.
“It’s just tough that we say goodbye to nine seniors who are not going to get a chance to finish or put their cleats up, hang their cleats up the right way,” he said.
A lot of people aren’t giving up that easy. There’s a petition on change.org asking the NCAA to extend players eligibility for another year. Before petitioners met their goal of 200,000 votes Friday, the NCAA tweeted saying they agree on eligibility relief for Division I athletes. They’ll discuss the details in coming days and weeks.