OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Before Friday's match-up against Vanderbilt, multiple of NC State's players tested positive for COVID-19. The Wolfpack fell to Vandy 3-1 with only about half of their roster eligible to play and many playing out of position.
NC State was supposed to return to the field Saturday afternoon, but the NCAA released a statement Saturday morning that the expected game would be ruled a no-contest due to COVID-19 protocols.
“The NCAA Division I Baseball Committee has declared the Vanderbilt-NC State Men’s College World Series game scheduled for Saturday, June 26 at 1 p.m. Central time a no-contest because of COVID-19 protocols. This decision was made based on the recommendation of the Championship Medical Team and the Douglas County Health Department. As a result, Vanderbilt will advance to the CWS Finals. The NCAA and the committee regret that NC State’s student-athletes and coaching staff will not be able to continue in the championship in which they earned the right to participate. Because of privacy issues, we cannot provide further details,” the statement read.
In a statement, NC State's Athletic Director Boo Corrigan called the situation "extremely difficult for everyone involved."
"The last 24 hours have been extremely difficult for everyone involved and my heart goes out to the student-athletes, coaches, and staff of our baseball program. This is an excruciating way to have their season come to a conclusion, we appreciate their efforts all year long, as well as the incredible support from Wolfpack Nation," Corrigan's statement read.
Head coach Elliot Avent said it was a heartbreaking situation but thanked the fans for supporting the team.
"This is a heartbreaking situation and I'm gutted for everyone involved and for all those that were captivated by the heart and fight of this team. Our medical staff and our players have been incredible this season with all they've done to keep us safe and get us ready to play, day in and day out. I love this team and this past month, many people that got to watch them fell in love with them as well. Although we're all heartbroken, this team will never be forgotten and will live in the hearts of Wolfpack and baseball fans forever."
Fans were upset about the decision, and say they were taken on a roller coaster of emotions Friday and Saturday. They add that while they might not agree, they understand.
"Oh gosh, we were texting everybody in the middle of the night, talking about how tough it was and how obviously we think it’s all wrong but we understand it. It is what it is, everyone’s got to deal with it so it just seems like we just had another thing happen to us that hopefully, we’ll overcome it and hopefully be back here next year," said Mack McLamb, an NC State fan.
Although the season ended abruptly, fans say they could not be more proud of the team and be part of the Wolfpack.
"I could not be as a fan of the program or an alum more proud of those guys that were out there yesterday giving it all they had. We almost won the game so that was awesome," said Ashby Ware, an NC State fan. "Elliot Avent’s a great coach. His whole coaching staff is great and that team believes in him and they believe in each other and you can see that. We were at the team hotel and you could see the players were obviously upset about this. But we really felt we were going to win yesterday with what we had out there, had a lot of guys out of position but it doesn’t seem to matter. NC state’s never going to quit."