The Minnesota Golden Gophers Volleyball team will begin their NCAA Tournament play on April 15th at 6PM on ESPN3 against either Georgia Tech or Lipscomb. But don’t expect to be able to hear any play-by-play of the match. Just like the NCAA Women’s basketball Tournament which was criticized for the lack of amenities in their bubble in San Antonio, details are coming out about the setup in the NCAA bubble in Omaha for the volleyball tournament, and they aren’t great.
Just got word that the first two rounds of the @NCAAVolleyball Tournament will NOT have broadcast crews/commentators.— Emily Ehman (@emilyehman) April 8, 2021
This is absolutely unacceptable. Teams have been preparing for over a year and a half for this opportunity. We need to be better. @NCAA
I'd like to add that all matches are being played in a convention center where as of yesterday, coaches were told there will be *no locker rooms* until the Elite Eight. Players will have to change out of warm ups into jerseys on the BENCH. @NCAAVolleyball— Emily Ehman (@emilyehman) April 8, 2021
Per multiple @NCAAVolleyball coaches, the 8 practice courts in the convention center are sport court layered over cement flooring.— Emily Ehman (@emilyehman) April 8, 2021
This is very high risk for injury and NOT suitable for players' safety — especially any players jumping repeatedly.
A few weeks after already getting ripped apart by the lack of amenities for it’s female athletes the NCAA decides to one up themselves and actually take safety out of consideration for the players in Omaha. The NCAA responded to these charges late Thursday afternoon, but they didn’t have their best PR person on the job.
Clarifications on the Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship: https://t.co/x6JtYOhnFQ#NCAAVB pic.twitter.com/PujgEjcxmF— NCAA Women's Volleyball (@NCAAVolleyball) April 9, 2021
So the NCAA itself confirmed that since they usually don’t have any broadcast crews for the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament, and since there will be so many streams going at once, they decided it wasn’t worth bringing in broadcasters for the first THREE rounds this year. So enjoy your sounds of the action filled video feed I guess. For whatever reason I guess the NCAA and ESPN forgot that announcers have been broadcasting remotely FOR A DAMN YEAR and it’s really not that hard to set up. Broadcasters have been replying to the above tweets saying they would work the tournament FOR FREE, but apparently that too complicated for the NCAA’s one tech person to get figured out? Can you imagine if the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament was just the game..no commentary? Yeah, that wouldn’t even happen.
But at least the players will have secure changing areas. They might be random tents in the corner of the convention center, but the players won’t need to strip right there on the bench. Additionally, the players get some felt under the floor to keep them from jumping on a thin sheet of rubber directly on hard concrete. I’m sure that will make a ton of difference. But it does sound like the NCAA is pretending to try and kind of fix some things...
“There is no requirement to produce coverage of or provide live commentary” does NOT make it acceptable.— Emily Ehman (@emilyehman) April 9, 2021
As for the “changing rooms” & felt below the sport court, from my reporting, it’s my understanding this is new within the last 24 hours. https://t.co/gztPXyFgRe
The NCAA Tournament is already down to 48 teams from 64, and will be down to just 32 before even the top 16 teams hit the court. You would think they could have found additional courts between Creighton, Nebraska-Omaha, or any of the several d3 schools in the area, but instead then went on cramming everything in one convention center building. It’s just another case of the NCAA choosing to go to the least passible thing instead of trying to actually give the athletes a quality experience. Because if you don’t need to pay them, why not treat them all like cheap property. The tournament is still a week away, and things can change, but it sure looks like the NCAA will use COVID as an excuse to get out of doing anything but the bare minimum. If you are a women’s hockey fan, this is not new to you. You already know that the NCAA could not give two craps if the tournament does not make them any money. It’s 100% on par for their brand.
In any case, hopefully a smart veteran led team like the Gophers can overcome all the distractions and keep their eyes on the prize as they move their way to the actual quality conditions that should afford every team in the field in the Elite 8.