COLLEGE STATION — Even if he didn't want to believe it, Ross Bjork knew the season was over. Once the NBA season came to a close, Texas A&M's athletic director knew the NCAA would follow next.
Just as the Aggies were prepping for shoot-around before Thursday's game against the Missouri Tigers, the news broke that the NCAA would effectively cancel all sports until June, including SEC tournament, which told fans they would not be allowed to attend following Wednesday's decision.
The choice made by the NCAA would also ban all spring sports championships, including the College World Series — an event the Aggies baseball program seemed in contention to join. Ultimately, the virus spreading over the news would become the downfall of the world of college athletics.
"I think the NBA was a reality check for the sports world, and then you saw a lot of things happen in the aftermath of all that,” Bjork said Thursday afternoon following the cancellation of the tournament.
The Aggies will finish the 2020 campaign with a 16-14 record, going 10-8 in SEC play. Under first-year head coach, A&M would post their best record against conference foes since 2016 when the team made a brief appearance in the Sweet 16 against Michigan. For their reward, Williams was named the AP's SEC Coach of the Year.
A trio of wins against talented Tiger programs (Missouri, Auburn, LSU) would likely have sent them to the big dance. Even one win would have solidified their resume for a shot at the National Innovational Tournament in New York City.
For the women's program, the loss of tournament play will be tougher to swallow. The Lady Ags finished with a 22-6 record, going 10-6 in conference play. They finished 19th and had the chance to host two rounds of play for the women's tournament, with an opportunity to play for a title in New Orleans, La.
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SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey stated that the final call was made by medical officials, believing "the role of college athletics and big events (in that), could stop that potential spread."
Bjork, while upset, agreed with the outcome.
“We’ve already monitored if anyone is symptomatic right now, so we don’t have any concerns about that,” Bjork stated. “As student-athletes come back from spring break, we’re going to have them check in to the training room to see if there are any symptoms.
Campus will enter a period of quietness as the virus will hope to contain itself. The bats at Blue Bell Park will become silent while football's status remains in question following the suspension's lift on April 15. All spring sports will be further assessed when the time is right.
But around the rim, both A&M programs received a technical foul that was out of their control. One team was set for a run at a title while the other could have added sparks to the world of college basketball. After finishing their season on a 5-2 run, the Aggies men's program seemed ready to take on the world.
To take that last shot. Too late. The clock struck midnight on the wonder team from College Station that seemed destined to be the sleeper team in the Music City.
And all that's left are more questions rather than answers.