HOUSTON — Imagine players on a 24-win team waiting on the bubble’s edge to hear if they reached the NCAA Tournament on Selection Sunday, being told they made it by the NCAA, then finding out it was all a big mistake.
That’s what happened almost three weeks ago to South Carolina. On Thursday the NCAA confirmed previous reports from 247Sports and WISTV that South Carolina was mistakenly informed — via a flaw in a newly installed messaging app — congratulating the Gamecocks for making the 2016 NCAA Tournament as an at-large team.
But that was not the case. Dan Gavitt, the NCAA vice president of men’s basketball championships, put out this statement: “Unfortunately, during the selection show a junior men’s basketball staff member mistakenly sent a text to a member of the University of South Carolina athletics department staff via an app we used for the first time during the 2016 tournament. The text was supposed to go to all teams, congratulating them for making the tournament. Regrettably, a text meant for another institution went to South Carolina instead.
“While the Gamecocks were given serious consideration, at no time during the selection process was South Carolina voted in to the field. Ultimately, they were one of the last four teams left out of the tournament. I take full responsibility for this clerical error and apologize to Coach (Frank) Martin, his staff and team, and the entire University of South Carolina community.”
What a whirlwind few minutes it must have been for South Carolina. To believe you made the field — and then get told it was not to be.
South Carolina earned a No. 1 seed in the NIT and fell against Georgia Tech on March 21, ending its season.