Perhaps the best Aztecs men’s basketball team in history won’t realize its biggest ambition: a run for an NCAA title.
San Diego State will finish its season with a 30-2 record after the NCAA canceled all winter and spring sports championships Thursday, citing concerns about coronavirus.
SDSU won the first 26 games of the season and was the last undefeated team in Division I. The No. 6 Aztecs tied Gonzaga and Dayton for the fewest losses in the country and was considered a shoo-in for a top seed in March Madness.
“This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events 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,” the NCAA said in a statement.
Thank you 4 everything Aztec Nation. We gave it everything we got & more. We wanted it all. Family lives forever
— shake (@adamseiko2) March 12, 2020
Coach Brian Dutcher accepted the news with grace.
“I think it should have been postponed and see where we are at in a month, but I understand them canceling it,” said Dutcher, according to basketball analyst Jeff Goodman, via Twitter.
Members of the Aztecs, disappointed by the initial decision Wednesday to bar fans from the tournament, shared their sadness on social media after the NCAA’s decision.
Both Matt Mitchell and KJ Feagin offered up collages of their memories from the year, while Adam Seiko suggested what was to come. “We wanted it all,” he wrote.
— I AM (@iammattmitch11) March 12, 2020
Among the season’s highlights: winning the regular season Mountain West conference flag and junior guard Malachi Flynn’s performance. He is on the shortlist for multiple national basketball honors, including the John R. Wooden Award, which honors the outstanding player in Division I men’s basketball.
The NCAA’s cancellation follows an announcement Thursday morning by SDSU that it was suspending all spring sports Thursday.
All team activities, including games, tournaments and practices are suspended for this weekend. SDSU officials say they will continue to monitor the situation as “preventative measures,” as there have yet to be any “confirmed COVID-19 cases in the SDSU community.”
The Mountain West also will suspend spring sports.
— yeah10! (@kjfeag) March 12, 2020
Athletic events on the UCSD campus will continue as scheduled, but spectators will not be permitted, officials said.
As information becomes available, it will be listed on GoAztecs.com, and changes to scheduled events can be found on the individual team schedule pages on the website. SDSU’s coronavirus site lists additional updates.
Despite the abrupt end to the season, SDSU fan Kyle Parcell, choosing the bright side, tweeted: “I’m going to go ahead and say we are the champs until told otherwise … Book the parade!”
I’m going to go ahead and say we are the champs until told otherwise…
SDSU Aztecs are your 2020 National Champs!!! BOOK THE PARADE! pic.twitter.com/g6YlEvae7N
— Kyle Parcell (@KyleParcell) March 12, 2020
— City News Service and staff reports
Updated 9:50 p.m.