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NCAA explains decision not to build tournament bracket amid outbreak

Despite urging from some coaches and administrators to put out a bracket that would have memorialized the NCAA tournament field this year despite it being canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt put out a statement Sunday explaining why the NCAA ultimately decided not to go through with a selection process.

Ultimately, Gavitt said, building a bracket would have required too many assumptions and incomplete results from the conference tournaments that were halted on Thursday to give the process its due legitimacy.

“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 said. 

When the NCAA ultimately decided to call off the tournament, the men’s basketball selection committee was in New York beginning its deliberations that would have ultimately resulted in Sunday’s release. But as Gavitt noted in his statement, the women’s tournament committee had not even gathered yet and 19 men’s conference tournaments hadn’t been completed. 

“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.” 

Workers at Bridgestone Arena remove signage and seating following the cancellation of the SEC men's basketball tournament due to concerns over the Covid-19 coronavirus.

One idea that had been put forward by some coaches was to announce a bracket, which would allow teams who made it to be recognized and hang banners. Meanwhile, the coaches could then collect their bonuses for making the NCAA tournament and donate them to make up for arena workers’ lost income due to the cancellation. 

But ultimately, the NCAA did not want to put out a theoretical bracket based on projecting conference tournament results. 

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