SPOKANE, Wash. — Editor's note: Above video was published when the NCAA announced fans would not be allowed at the tournament
SPOKANE, Wash. – Former and current Gonzaga players are expressing disappointment and frustration about the cancellation of March Madness.
NCAA leaders announced the cancellation of the Division I men's and women's 2020 basketball tournaments, and all remaining winter and spring championships, on Thursday.
"This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the event do not contribute to spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities," a statement reads in part.
Gonzaga was likely going to be a one or two seed in the tournament after winning the West Coast Conference Tournament, and would have likely played in Spokane for the first time in the men's program's history.
Gonzaga women's basketball also had a chance to host in the NCAA Tournament. The top four seeds of every region in the women's bracket get to host and GU could have been one of them.
It would have been the first time since 2014 that the women hosted games during the NCAA Tournament.
Head coach Mark Few was live on ESPN when he heard the news about the cancellation. His reaction was one of disappointment.
"Extremely, extremely disappointed. I think all of us felt we could postpone and even postpone into May, and if we needed to cancel, we could cancel then. If that's what they're doing then, I guess, that's what they're doing," Few said.
Gonzaga women's coach Lisa Fortier also expressed her sadness for the players and those dealing with the virus.
"That’s a wrap. I love these young women and feel deeply for them right now. I’m so sad for all of the NCAA athletes, and every family and person dealing with the terrible circumstances of this virus. We will keep praying for all," she wrote.
Many people on social media are echoing Few’s disappointment, with current and former men’s basketball players being the most vocal.
“The worst day in sports history,” wrote former player Rem Bakamus, who graduated from Gonzaga in 2017.
Point guard and graduate transfer Ryan Woolridge was also outspoken on Twitter following the decision.
"So you telling me I transferred to not play in the tournament," he wrote on Twitter.
“I’ll take my year back now,” she added.
Jill Townsend tweeted a simple message: “This sucks.”
Olivia Luu, a graduate assistant for Gonzaga women’s basketball, expressed her sympathy for players across the country.
“My heart goes out to all the seniors across the country.. Can’t believe this rn,” she wrote.