In the midst of an up-and-down season for the Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters basketball team, they experienced one of the top highlights of their season. And then, their joy was turned to pain.
“I don’t think anybody thought they would see something like this.”
As the 12th and final seed in the Conference USA women’s basketball tournament, they stunned fifth-ranked UAB. The next day, just minutes before the start of their second game, league officials announced the event’s cancellation – ending the Techsters’ season.
“[I] hated it for those players no doubt about it, for the coaches, the fans, ” says Louisiana Tech Associate Athletic Director of Communications, Malcolm Butler. “I’m going through what’s next. [I’m] packing up my stuff. Tommy [McClelland] already called for a senior staff meeting over at the hotel. The wheels are spinning, as far as ‘okay, what does this mean?’ What’s next?”
Suspensions of games spread like wildfire to other C-USA sports. Finally on March 16, they announced all Spring activities were canceled.
“Right call, no doubt about it, ” Butler continues. “[I] don’t think anybody can question that now. Tough way for those kids to see their season come to an end.”
This week, the NCAA announced athletes from the Spring could be eligible for an additional season. For those playing in the Winter, the news was grim.
“You look at basketball, you have already played 30 games during your season, ” says Butler. “So, it would’ve kind of surprised me if the NCAA said ‘we’re going to give those sports another year of eligibility.’ Whether that’s right or wrong. So, who knows what maybe still can happen.”
For those hoping to return in Spring 2021, schools will have the option to offer the same or a lower amount of aid a student-athlete received this year.
“Tommy McClelland our Athletics Director is already on top of that, ” says Butler. “[He is] working through some numbers. On the mid-major level it’s a huge financial component.”
While we don’t know what they future holds for many, Malcolm Butler joins others in hoping sports will return sooner than later.
“You know if somebody wanted to get to America, it was to find a to try to interrupt athletics, and we’re seeing this virus has done that, ” Butler reflects. “I don’t think anybody would argue with the fact how important athletics, professionally, collegiality, and on the high school level is to Americans.”