UMSL athletics on hold amid coronavirus pandemic

UMSL men's basketball

Tritons players (from left) Jose Grubbs, Steve Webb, Jason Towery, Yaakema Rose Jr. and Shane Wissink all played integral roles during UMSL’s historic season, but they won’t get a chance to see how far they could advance in the NCAA Division II Tournament after securing UMSL’s first berth since 1988.

The University of Missouri–St. Louis men’s basketball team was getting set to board a bus to Indianapolis last Thursday when the announcement came from the NCAA that its championship tournaments would be canceled amid the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

It brought an abrupt end to a historic season for the Tritons, who were supposed to make the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1988 while taking on Southern Indiana on Saturday at the University of Indianapolis.

The public-health crisis cost the team the opportunity to see how long they could continue their magical ride, but they will still be remembered for winning a school-record 27 games, winning a share of the Great Lakes Valley Conference regular-season title and advancing to the GLVC Tournament final for the first time in history before being edged by Truman State 53-52 on March 8.

Coach Bob Sundvold was named the league’s coach of the year. Sophomore guard Steve Webb was chosen its defensive player of the year. Juniors Jose Grubbs and Yaakema Rose Jr. were voted to the all-conference first team, and Rose, who led the team in scoring, was also named to the Division II Conference Commissioners Association All-Midwest Region Second Team.

The basketball team wasn’t alone in having its season halted. The NCAA Division II Swimming and Diving Championships were canceled while already in progress on Thursday. The 200-yard freestyle relay team of senior Gabo Jimenez, sophomores Austin Stevenson and Aiden Clark and freshman Jon Osa had placed 14th in their preliminary heat in a time of 1 minute, 21.11 seconds, which would have advanced them to the consolation finals heat.

Spring sports are also on hiatus with the Great Lakes Valley Conference’s Council of Presidents voting unanimously on Friday to suspend all activities related to intercollegiate athletics and cancel the remaining 2020 GLVC Championships due to concerns of the pandemic.

The suspension of all countable athletically related activities, including competition and practices, is effective immediately across all 24 GLVC sports.

The GLVC will review the status of the league suspension on April 6.

The health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators and fans is our top priority, as is our responsibility to take these unprecedented actions to address this public-health crisis.


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