NCAA decides there will be no release of a 2020 NCAA Tournament bracket

It is official: not only will there be no NCAA Tournament in 2020, there will not be an NCAA Tournament bracket either.

Two days after NCAA vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt told CBS Sports that the idea of trying to salvage a bracket was still a remote possibility, word arrived Sunday afternoon that such a possibility is no more. 

“The disappointment and heartbreak we all feel for student-athletes unable to compete is significant, yet nothing is ever more important than the health and safety of student-athletes, coaches and fans,” Gavitt said.

Gavitt released a lengthy statement that provided perspective to how he came to this decision. In his role, he holds the authority to make such a call and was clear to state that this was his conclusion and not that of the selection committee.

“The important work of the basketball committees is to set up competitively-balanced brackets to determine national champions,” Gavitt said. “I don’t believe it’s responsible or fair to do that with incomplete seasons — especially for tournaments that unfortunately won’t be played. Therefore there will not be any NCAA Division I men’s and women’s basketball championship selection shows or tournament brackets released this year.”

A significant roadblock to not completing a bracket was the arresting end to the 2019-20 season, which saw only 13 out of 32 conferences award an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. That meant 19 leagues either stopped their brackets mid-tournament or never were able to begin at all. 

Division I men’s college basketball had 132 conference-tournament postseason games left on the table. On the women’s side 81 games were never played and 18 leagues did not finish their tournaments.

A litany of coaches and athletic directors reached out to Gavitt to lobby for the release of an official bracket as means of putting a positive end to a season that had such an unfortunate, unpredictable and swift cessation. A bracket would have served as an official documentation of the hard work and earnings that could have come from that. For schools like Dayton, San Diego State, Baylor and others — that were having once-in-a-generation seasons — that official acknowledgement will never come. 

“Players and coaches want to see their school name on the bracket,” Gavitt said. “Members of the media want to dissect matchups. Bracketologists want to compare the work of the committees versus what they’ve predicted. Fans are curious for those same reasons. All of us want something to fill the void we’re feeling. However, anything less than a credible process is inconsistent with the tradition of the NCAA basketball championships. Brackets based on hypotheticals can’t substitute for a complete selection, seeding and bracketing process. There will always be an asterisk next to the 2020 NCAA men’s and women’s basketball championships regardless if brackets are released. There is not an authentic way to produce tournament fields and brackets at this point without speculating and that isn’t fair to the teams that would be positively or negatively impacted by manufacturing March Madness.”

Gavitt was clear in that this was his decision first; it never got to a point where he asked the selection committee for approval. And given the widespread concern over the daily rise in reported coronavirus cases, Gavitt cautioned that “in light of this global health crisis, I believe we need to keep college basketball in perspective.” 

This means that March 15, 2020 — what would have been Selection Sunday — instead becomes the official end of the 2019-20 college basketball season. 

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