While the 2016 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament has been an incredible success so far with outstanding buzzer-beating finishes, upsets, and Cinderella runs to the Final Four, it seems that the NCAA cannot stop tripping over themselves. First, the official tournament bracket was leaked on Twitter two hours prior to the conference tournament games ending on Selection Sunday, sparking an NCAA investigation into the origins of just how the bracket managed to surface online before CBS’s NCAA Selection Show. Now, it is also being reported by ESPN that on Selection Sunday, the NCAA errantly invited South Carolina (25-9), one of the several bubble teams that awaited their tournament fate following their elimination from their conference tournament, to the NCAA Tournament via a text message to a member of the South Carolina athletic department.
NCAA vice president of men’s basketball championships, Dan Gavitt, took responsibility for the incident and apologized to the University of South Carolina for the gaffe on Thursday when he addressed the media on the situation:
“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 into 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 Martin, his staff and team, and the entire University of South Carolina community.”
The text was reportedly supposed to be sent to the University of Southern California, who received the No. 9 seed in the East Region, but because South Carolina and Southern Cal are right next to each other in the app’s alphabetical arrangement (USC and USC), it was South Carolina that received the misleading text about going dancing.
This has to be just the absolute worst feeling in the world for the South Carolina players. 2015-2016 was South Carolina’s best season in God knows how long, and yet they still not only couldn’t get into the tournament, but the NCAA left them at the alter in the most brutal way possible. In today’s advanced day and age, we see a pretty solid amount of technical difficulties, apps/websites crashing, and just overall stupidity related to social media and technology. But this specific case of the NCAA finding a way to invite the wrong team to their biggest event in the Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament is absolutely hilarious. Only an organization like the NCAA could possibly screw up such a simple thing as “send invitations to these guys and not these guys.” The NCAA and the selection committee have taken a lot of heat over the years for their process of selecting teams into the tournament, but inviting the wrong team and getting called out on it has to be incredibly embarrassing for the process as a whole. At the end of the day, however, the biggest loser in all of this are the South Carolina players. One moment they are all in extreme jubilation, the next, they are on the verge of death. This South Carolina story is probably the biggest emotional 180 since, well, THE BUTLER:
Malcolm Butler game winning interception vs. Seahawks in Superbowl 49, February 1st, 2015 pic.twitter.com/shzLuo70o5
— Best Sport Moments (@ClassicSports12) March 28, 2016