WINONA LAKE – While the NAIA Men’s Basketball Championship tournaments fell apart the week before, Grace College was holding out hope there was an outside shot it could have maintained its NCCAA Championships.
News was changing by the hour, and no one knew how long, how severe or to what degree sports would take shape, if at all. Grace found out on Thursday, March 12, its men’s basketball team and the remainder of the still-active NAIA field were out of their tournament. But the NCCAAs had not yet made a decision. Scheduled to start on March 18, Grace College was serving as host and would have its women’s team, and very likely its men’s team, active in the eight-team brackets.
As would hold serve, the NCCAAs were quickly canceled, ending the winter sports season for Grace. Campus would soon be emptied and the process then started with spring sports.
This is a look at the NCCAA tournament timeline through the guidance of Grace College athletic director Chad Briscoe.
Wednesday, March 11
7:30 a.m.: Briscoe spoke to the Warsaw Optimist Club breakfast meeting sharing that the NCCAA Div. I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships are on for next week and how Grace will be taking safety measures to provide hand sanitizer stations at both entrances during the four-day tournament and, as of then, things were on schedule as normal.
4:38 p.m.: The NCAA announces that fans will not be allowed to attend games due to coronavirus.
7:00 p.m.: Grace Women’s basketball team plays an NCCAA Midwest Regional Game at Cedarville University against Concordia University (MI) in front of no fans.
9:31 p.m.: The NBA suspends the 2019-20 season “until further notice.”
9:15 p.m.: NAIA President Jim Carr sends a press release stating that due to the widespread health risks posed by COVID-19, it will limit fan attendance at all remaining winter championships. The attendance will be limited to only essential staff and limited family members.
Thursday, March 12
12:21 a.m.: The NAIA Div. II Basketball Championships issue an email stating that only official party members (student athletes, official party, athletic trainers, honorary coaches, VIP’s and media) will be allowed in the Sanford Pentagon. Additionally, each team remaining in the championship field will receive 100 wristbands for family and friends allowed to attend games.
10:48 a.m.: Grace athletic department cancels all NCCAA Service Projects for the 2020 NCCAA Div. I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships.
1:44 p.m.: Grace athletic department cancels the banquet for the NCCAA Basketball Championships for the following week.
2:59 p.m.: The NCCAA cancels the NCCAA Div. II basketball championships, which were underway at the time in Missouri.
3:00 p.m.: Dr. Bill Katip, Dr. Drew Flamm and Briscoe conduct conference call with NCCAA President Dan Wood to discuss and ultimately cancel the NCCAA Div. I tournament.
4:16 p.m.: The NCAA cancels all remaining winter and spring championships, including the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.
4:50 p.m.: Briscoe informs coach Dan Davis, coach Carol McGregor and the Grace women’s basketball team in person during practice that the NCCAA Div. I Basketball Championships have been canceled.
4:51 p.m.: The NCCAA cancels the NCCAA Div. I Basketball Championships, scheduled to be hosted at Grace College the following week (March 18-21).
5:00 p.m.: Briscoe calls Scott Moore to inform him to share with the men’s basketball team that the NCCAA Div. I Basketball Championships have been canceled.
“Informing our women’s program of the tournament being canceled while they were practicing is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my administrative career as an AD,” Briscoe said.
Friday, March 13
6:33 a.m.: Briscoe calls Grace College baseball coach Ryan Roth to inform him all Crossroads League spring sports events are being suspended until April 1. The team is to come home and not play the games scheduled at Mount Vernon Nazarene University, where the Grace baseball program was in Ohio at Mount Vernon Nazarene to play a doubleheader starting at noon.
9:34 a.m.: Crossroads League announces all spring sports are being suspended until April 1.
11:30 am: Chad Briscoe has an NAIA NAC call to discuss spring sports if they are to continue or be canceled for the remainder of the year.
5:11 pm: Carr sends out an email detailing that any resulting decisions for spring sports will be shared on Monday with the membership.
“The planning and preparation that goes into hosting a national championship only to have it canceled days before teams were to arrive was devastating,” Briscoe said. “So many supporters from the community who partnered with us in hosting these tournaments, it was difficult to tell them as well the tournament had been canceled.”
Monday, March 16
11:00 am: The NAIA announces all spring sports seasons are canceled for the year.
“We look forward to 2021 and beyond,” Briscoe said. “There is a deeper appreciation for the opportunity to serve as a host site for a national championship. We are thankful Grace College and Kosciusko County has been fortunate enough to be selected to be home site for a national championship. Our community does a tremendous job embracing and supporting these championships.”