The University of Northern Colorado Sunday night made official what had been discussed since the men’s basketball team suffered Thursday’s disappointing loss to Southern Utah in the Big Sky Conference quarterfinals.
There will be no post-season for the Bears this year.
As I noted in breaking the news Sunday night on social media, the decision was made final at a team meeting, as all voices had been heard while the options were weighed over the previous 72 hours.
For as much as there was a desire to potentially play, there were a number of factors that were on the wrong side of the ledger, not the least of which was money.
Commitment to the College Basketball Invitational would have cost $40,000 just for the first and second rounds. There would have been an opportunity for a home game, likely in the second round. At a time where UNC is cutting budgets campuswide and shedding jobs, justifying the cost would’ve been a probable public relations issue. There had been multiple conversations between the CBI organizers and the powers-that-be at UNC through Friday and Saturday before the final decision was delivered.
The College Insider Tournament, which the Bears won a year ago, wasn’t an option because of the legal wrangling going on in Weld County District Court between the two sides.
Finally, while I don’t have a person by person rundown of the opinions, there were some with the view – stated quite well by an alum on my Facebook post about the decision – “Been there, have the trophy.” Let’s also remember that the upperclassmen on this year’s roster have played in a total of 60 games in two seasons, plus had traveled to St. Thomas before the ’17-18 season. The travel, the missing classes, the pace of the season all take a toll on everyone.
I’ll also note, since both announced their fields Sunday night, that the CBI held to its usual format: 16 teams. The CIT scrambled to get 26 after 20 last year, but they really had to dig to get those numbers, especially given the number of teams that turned them down, including almost all Big Sky teams that would’ve been eligible. Southern Utah was the only team to take them up on the offer. In fact, combined the two tournaments went so far as inviting 4 teams with losing records (!) because of their struggles in getting teams to “buy in”.
The WNIT field will be announced following the brackets for the women’s NCAA Tournament being made final Monday night. The likelihood of UNC’s women being in the field is sizable, aided by the fact the tournament is operated by Triple Crown Sports. There may, in fact, be as many as 3 Big Sky teams that make that field.