This was the last possible week for Tech to decide. The ACC tournament starts next Tuesday. Had the denial of the appeal been announced, say, Monday, the league would have been scrambling to reset its bracket, and no league wants such aggravation on the literal eve of its showcase event. That said, Tech could have made this easier on everybody by not appealing at all.
We’ll never know whether the Jackets would have won their appeal, but the odds were never good. This is an athletic program that, in the NCAA’s eyes, has become a serial offender. It was slapped with two Level 1 violations. That’s not nothing. The postseason ban seemed unduly harsh only to Tech, and the appeal only served to thrust two postseasons into question. Moot point now, though.
It would have been fascinating to see if the Institute would have come to the same decision had the Jackets been 57th in the NCAA’s NET rankings, as opposed to 77th. The cruel part about Monday’s announcement was that the Jackets had begun to resemble the sort of team that might have a closing burst in it. It has four good players — Jose Alvarado, James Banks, Michael Devoe and Moses Wright — and can defend. It can play a little.
This surely is the best of Pastner’s four Tech teams, but it lost too many close games — Arkansas’ last-second banked-in 3-pointer still resonates — for school elders to invest any more in this season at the peril of the next. Said Pastner in a Tech statement: “I support the decision of our administration to withdraw the appeal of the competition penalty and am happy to know that we'll have this penalty behind us as we go into 2020-21.”
Alvarado, Devoe and Wright have eligibility remaining beyond this year. That’s a nucleus, but more will be required. Even in a season where uncertainty reigned, the Jackets missed a chance. There was no reason to get swept by Notre Dame and Syracuse, teams that won’t make the NCAA field, no reason to lose to Ball State (117th in NET) at McCamish Pavilion. That only four teams are above .500 in ACC play tells us that the ACC’s middle is was soft. Tech is part of that spongy midriff.
The postseason ban will be served this spring. Next season figures to tell the tale on Pastner. If he can’t take Tech dancing then, he mightn’t get another try.