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Clouds hover above the rain-soaked courts at UC Davis' Marya Welch Tennis Center on Saturday. Aggie athletics find themselves in a world of uncertainty in wake of recent COVID-19-related cancellations. Owen Yancher/Enterprise photo

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A world of uncertainty follows 72-hour collegiate sports firestorm

It was going to be a busy weekend for UC Davis athletics.

But the promise of Big West championships in basketball were dashed on Thursday when the conference canceled its year-end tournament, citing concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.

365体育投注At that time, a bittersweet moment came when the Aggie women — regular-season winners — learned they had earned the BWC automatic bid to the NCAA Big Dance. The fifth-seed UCD men were left hanging with a sudden end to their campaign.

365体育投注Quickly thereafter, announcements came that conferences throughout the nation were not going to hold their qualifying tournaments. Almost immediately, No. 1 Kansas and hoops icon Duke pulled out of the NCAA tourney itself. Minutes later, the NCAA canceled its 68-school year-end event.

365体育投注Then on Thursday afternoon, UCD Intercollegiate Athletics announced it was suspending winter and spring competition indefinitely. Campus officials had already canceled this week’s in-person final exams, ordering them completed online.

After finals week, the campus will observe spring break March 22 to 29. UCD Chancellor Gary S. May has also announced plans for classroom instruction during the spring quarter to take place virtually, when possible.

Ironically, the once-busy Saturday sports schedule was greeted by a double-whammy. Rain left little puddles on softball’s La Rue Field and at the beach volleyball facility: a guarantee that most Aggie athletics would have been dark for the weekend anyway.

But how long will the metaphorical rain of the COVID-19-induced ban last?

In conjunction with an edict by Big West directors who suspended all conference athletics last week, UCD said in a prepared statement that “(the decision to suspend sports) was made in the interest of the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches and staff, administrators and fans.”

365体育投注The suspension came after UC Davis had already banned non-essential attendees from sporting events. There is no indication from Davis or NCAA officials just how long the pause in the action will be.

“We completely understand that this is bigger than just a lacrosse season,” said Aggie women’s lacrosse head coach Suzanne Isidor on Saturday. Her UCD unit was off to a red-hot start, having beaten Cal, Oregon and Georgetown in recent weeks.

“It’s still very difficult emotionally,” the third-year coach added. “We were just beginning something special that we’ve worked on all year. This group is special. The senior class has meant so much to UC Davis. I couldn’t be more proud of them, their leadership and what they’ve done for this program.

365体育投注“This abrupt ending is devastating but doesn’t change the mark our seniors have left on the program. I am forever grateful.”

The Enterprise approached a handful of student-athletes — most notably men’s and women’s basketball players — for comments on the abrupt ends of their seasons. In some cases, this move signals the end of their college careers.

None were willing to talk. One Aggie told this newspaper that the ban was “still too raw … and I haven’t processed what it all means.” Another said she was “probably going home for awhile,” but didn’t want to comment further out of respect for the senior athletes on her team.

365体育投注But social media clouds came in clusters as Aggie student-athletes took to Twitter and Facebook to share emotions …

“Ending my four years of college golf like this is for sure heartbreaking,” Paris native and 2019 all-Big West UC Davis golfer Christine Danielsson posted to Instagram. “But I am also grateful that I got the chance to live a childhood dream of moving to the United States to pursue golf at a higher level.

“I can’t thank my teammates enough for everything they did for me during these past years. To not have my family close to me has … been hard sometimes. But I created my own family here at Davis and I will forever be grateful for that.”

365体育投注Aggie men’s basketball player and senior center Matt Neufeld found a silver lining in the end of his senior season, ensuring that the UCD legacy would continue by eventually “Telling my kids our team would have gone to the Final Four if the NCAA hadn’t canceled the season.”

365体育投注Senior teammate and St. Mary’s transfer Stefan Gonzalez, who finished 2020 as the nation’s most-efficient 3-point shooter, said on Twitter: “(I am) heartbroken that I didn’t get to end my college career fighting with my brothers for a spot in the tourney, but at the end of the day health and safety is a No. 1 priority. Thanks to everyone that was a part of my journey. Praying that this gets taken care of soon.”

Notes: The last time UC Davis or area athletic events saw even a modicum of upheaval came in November of 2018 when the Northern California Camp Fire forced postponement and cancellation of outdoor games. The blaze and resulting poor air quality forced the Causeway Classic football regular-season finale against Sacramento State to be relocated from Davis to the University of Nevada (Reno). … Aggie men’s basketball assistant coach Jonathan Metzger-Jones weighed in, too: “Every season and career comes to an end. But usually you get to go down swinging, fighting to play another day. To have it end this way is so surreal. I feel for our seniors. Such a great group. Wish we could’ve gone on to battle again.” … Among the Aggie sports casualties is the Monday-planned UC Davis football Pro Day at which UCD and area senior next-level hopefuls were scheduled to show their stuff to professional scouts at UC Davis Health Stadium.

— This article was produced by Enterprise staff writer Owen Yancher and sports editor Bruce Gallaudet.

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