It ranks among the less germane issues raised by the spread of the coronavirus, but Georgia Tech athletic director Todd Stansbury offered his strong belief Friday that the Yellow Jackets men’s basketball team has effectively served its postseason ban for NCAA recruiting violations. It leaves coach Josh Pastner’s team eligible for the 2021 postseason.
Speaking on a teleconference Friday, Stansbury said he believed that Tech had met the requirements of the ban by sitting out of the ACC tournament, even though it was ultimately canceled due to concerns of the spread of the coronavirus. There was concern among Tech fans that because the ACC tournament wasn’t completed and/or because the NCAA tournament will not be played, that there was a chance that Tech’s decision to accept its postseason ban would not be honored and that Tech would have to sit out of the 2021 postseason.
However, conference tournaments are considered part of the postseason by the NCAA, and the ACC conference tournament began March 10 in Greensboro, N.C., without Tech in it.
“Yes, most definitely,” Stansbury said in response to a question about if his understanding was that Tech had served the ban. “There is some type of formality, a box that needs to be checked, and so right now our attorneys are in the process of getting that done with the NCAA. But I definitely feel like we’ve fulfilled our obligation based on us not playing in the ACC tournament this year.”
Tech had initially appealed the postseason ban penalty, which was to be enforced for the 2019-20 season, after it was levied in September of last year. With the appeal not completed by the time the season ended, however, it enabled Tech to be eligible for the postseason, as penalties still in the appeal process cannot be applied.
With Tech’s hopes for the NCAA tournament likely reduced to needing to win the conference tournament to earn the ACC’s automatic bid, Stansbury decided in the final week of the regular season to withdraw the appeal and accept the penalty to go into the 2020-21 season with no concern over losing the appeal.
It unknowingly proved an especially prescient decision, as taking a chance on the Jackets making a run in the ACC tournament and earning a postseason bid this March would have not only been for naught, but would have left Tech in a position of losing the appeal and having to sit out the 2021 postseason also.
Said Stansbury, “I can honestly say I did not see this coming, that’s for sure.”
Other matters addressed by Stansbury:
As students are being instructed to stay away from campus, Tech’s academic support team, the sports-medicine staff and other athlete support units are developing solutions for when the institute resumes classes, expected to be March 30. The interactions will be done in an online format, Stansbury said.
“It’s definitely going to be an interesting transition, but that’s what we’re taking,” he said.
Some of Tech’s international athletes have returned home to their native countries, Stansbury said. Others have gone to homes of teammates, stayed in apartments off campus or remained in on-campus residences, as is permitted by Tech for students who can’t leave their residence halls.
Tech’s athletic-department personnel working on-site have been reduced to personnel deemed essential. Stansbury gave grounds-crew and building-management staff as examples.
While athletic activities have been suspended, strength coaches are able to send out workouts to athletes, though they have to be considered voluntary.
“Knowing that, for the most part, all of us are going to have a hard time finding weights, our coaches are looking for innovative ways for student-athletes to continue to work out, even if they don’t have access to a normal gym,” Stansbury said.
Stansbury said that, despite the near halt of daily routines, the athletic department’s capital campaign has continued. He said that he had secured “a couple of significant (gifts)” this week. The athletic department is nearing the completion of a three-year, $125 million campaign begun in Jan. 2018.
“The idea is, once I get through this week where it’s kind of developing a cadence on how we’re going to manage in the current situation, get back to fundraising so that hopefully we can finish this thing out,” he said.
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