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'No words to describe it': Gonzaga's season ends with March Madness cancellation

Gonzaga likely would have played in Spokane for the first in the men's program's history during the NCAA Tournament.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Gonzaga's Director of Athletics Mike Roth addressed the end of Gonzaga's season after NCAA leaders announced the cancellation of all Division I basketball tournaments. 

"...It’s really, really difficult. There’s no words to describe it. Saying it’s unfortunate isn’t strong enough," Roth said. 

NCAA leaders said in a statement that their decision to cancel March Madness and other championship games was based on the "evolving COVID-19 public health threat" and preventing the spread of the pandemic, among other factors. 

NCAA President Mark Emmert previously announced on Wednesday that both the men's and women's NCAA Tournaments would be played without fans amid coronavirus concerns.

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.

RELATED: NCAA cancels March Madness tournaments over coronavirus concerns

Mark Few, head coach of the men's basketball team, 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.

Few said he thought there was 100% consensus among teams to pause and cancel the tournament at a later date if necessary. 

"Everybody that I talked to their players were 100% in on wanting to play, wishing to play, hoping to play," he said. 

Few was on a call with other high-profile coaches on Thursday morning to talk about how the NCAA Tournament could hopefully be postponed, Roth said. 

Roth said on Thursday that he was unsure of the NCAA's reasoning for the decision but could not question because he doesn't "know all of the factors."

Few also touched on how he would talk to the Gonzaga players about the cancellation. 

"We'll hit it head on and we'll explain to them that a lot of things in life are out of their control," he said.

"Mark said, 'If one person doesn’t sick, and if one person doesn’t pass away, because of us having to cancel the tournament, Is it worth it?'’ When some of us think about our families…it puts it in perspective," Roth added on Thursday.

Regardless, Roth said the emotions have run high among all players and staff alike. 

“There’s no salve to soothe that wound. It’s something they’re going to carry with them the rest of their lives and a number of us will," Roth added.

Tap to watch Roth speak to media about the March Madness cancellation 

Roth added that some of the athletes have been working toward this moment to play in the NCAA Tournament for their entire lives. The men's team in particular has qualified for the tournament for 22 years  — none of which they have taken for granted, Roth said.

Apart from the student-athletes and coaches, Roth said it is also a difficult time for fans and the Spokane community as a whole. 

“It’s really too bad for Spokane – not just Gonzaga, but Spokane. Spokane has done such a fantastic job of being Spokane for Gonzaga," he said.

RELATED: 'The worst day in sports history': Gonzaga players, coaches react to March Madness cancellation 

Before the NCAA announcement, Kansas' athletics director said the school has canceled all athletic travel indefinitely. All home and away athletic events were also suspended. 

Gonzaga Athletics previously released a statement about the NCAA's previous decision to hold the games without fans, saying the situation was disappointing.

The full statement reads:"We recognize the difficult conditions that forced the NCAA to make this decision. The current situation is very disappointing for our student-athletes and coaches, and it will have an undeniable impact on their experience. They’ve worked their whole lives for this moment and due to the circumstances, they are going to have a diminished experience. We have an amazing amount of support in the Spokane community, and we are disappointed for them to not be able to be in attendance and experience the games." 

All major Division I conferences, including the Pac-12 and the Big Sky, also canceled the remainder of their conference tournaments. 

The majority of people who have coronavirus will get better without any long-term effects, according to an Oregon doctor. 

About 80% of cases tend to be mild. In these cases, symptoms diminish over five to seven days, although people are still capable of transmitting the disease. 

But there are many people with a higher risk of having a more severe disease if they are diagnosed with coronavirus, including those with heart disease, diabetes, asthma and other vascular disease problems. Also, most children who get it have mild symptoms.

RELATED: Spokane events, including March Madness, impacted over coronavirus concerns

RELATED: Pac-12 men's basketball tournament canceled over coronavirus concerns


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