Their Own Decisions
North Carolina State’s baseball program, like every other college sports program in the country, doesn’t require its players to be vaccinated. They can “make their own decisions,” as Wolfpack head coach Elliott Avent said on Friday after four positive COVID-19 tests left his team with only 13 players—four pitchers and nine position players—for an eventual 3–1 loss to Vanderbilt in the College World Series semifinal game. It was NC State's first loss in the double elimination tournament, with a third game against the Commodores initially scheduled for Saturday to decide which team would advance to the best-of-three finals.
When asked if he’s been vaccinated, Avent rolled his eyes and said, “If you want to talk baseball, we can talk baseball. If you want to talk politics or stuff like that, you can talk to my head of sports medicine, Rob Murphy.”
Hours later, at 2:10 a.m. ET, NC State was eliminated from the CWS because the NCAA declared Saturday’s game against Vandy a no-contest due to COVID-19 protocols. The Commodores will advance to the CWS Finals, where they’ll play either Texas or Mississippi State.
"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’s Division I Baseball Committee said in a statement.
With the ruling, the Wolfpack joined VCU men’s basketball, Notre Dame men’s hockey, Michigan men’s hockey and Rice women’s volleyball in having their seasons ended in the postseason due to COVID-19 protocols. And it came after two unvaccinated NC State players, according to D1Baseball.com, tested positive this week. The entire roster was subsequently tested, which returned four additional positive tests from vaccinated individuals.
The timing and ambiguity of the NCAA’s announcement is being widely criticized, as it should be. As The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach said, “it’s not a HIPAA violation to explain what happened.” Had the NCAA waited until 8 a.m. ET and explained what happened, however, it wouldn’t have changed the outcome, nor would it have changed the events that triggered the outcome: two unvaccinated players testing positive.
While Avent is recklessly off-base in playing the politics card, he is right in refusing to “indoctrinate” his players with his “values” and “opinions;" his players have the right to “make their own decisions” in getting vaccinated. But it's also right that those decisions ended the program’s shot at its first national championship and jeopardized the health of others.
Only three and a half weeks until the first teams (Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers) report for training camp, five and a half weeks until the Hall of Fame Game, and 10 and a half weeks until Week 1:
Tom Brady’s comments were referring to the Chicago Bears and Mitchell Trubisky … NFL deadline raises the possibility Aaron Rodgers could opt out of the 2021 season … Gay ex-NFL player Wade Davis: I can’t wait until players like Carl Nassib don’t need to “come out.” … One player each team should consider trading before the season … Deshaun Watson could be out until 2023 at the “very minimum.” … Updated fantasy football tight end rankings.
5 Coaches Later
Follow me on Twitter, check out my podcast, and bookmark this page to see previous editions of Hot Clicks and find the newest edition every day. Visit our Extra Mustard page throughout each day for more offbeat sports stories.