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'No one person to blame,' coach says after VCU pulled from NCAA Tournament

Mike Rhoades: 'It's devastating. Heartbreaking. There were no dry eyes.'
A10 VCU St Bonaventure Basketball
Posted at 8:53 PM, Mar 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-21 00:13:38-04

INDIANAPOLIS -- VCU Head Coach Mike Rhoades said the team was re-tested Saturday and went through contact tracing before being pulled from NCAA Tournament because of multiple positive COVID-19 tests.

"I felt pretty good because we had enough guys," Rhoades said. "You could see that even though we were missing guys, the others wanted to play."

VCU Vice President and Director of Athletics Ed McLaughlin said the team was informed at 6:20 p.m. that the game would be a no-contest.

"Health department concern comes from multiple positive tests in the past 48 hours," McLaughlin added.

McLaughlin, who had hoped that the could play by utilizing contact tracing, said they cannot tell where the positives started as the team has been in quarantine since Sunday night and tested negative originally.

However, McLaughlin said the committee felt that with multiple positives in such a short period of time, there was concern for everyone involved with tonight's game.

This is the second straight year that VCU's season has ended off the court.

"It's hard for our student-athletes," McLaughlin said. "They've done everything we've asked them to do from a COVID protocol perspective."

Rhoades noted these were the first positive COVID-19 tests his team has had all season.

"They followed protocol. They knew how I am about this stuff," Rhoades said. "We just got stuck here in the past 24 hours. It just stinks."

NCAA Tournament Basketball
An usher places a sign near the fans' entrance to remind them to wear face coverings for a first-round game in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament, Saturday, March 20, 2021, at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Ind. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)

Rhoades said there was "no one person to blame" and that "we're all in this together."

He also said he would not question the decision of the Marion County Health Department, who ultimately said it was too risky to play.

"No matter what time of the year, when you have multiple positives like we did, there's going to be issues," Rhoades said.

While Rhoades called the decision devastating and heartbreaking and acknowledged "there were no dry eyes," he said, "we've lost two basketball games to this. 500,000 people have lost their lives."

Rhoades also mentioned talking to former player Justin Tillman after he lost both parents to the virus.

"That was a much tougher conversation than the one I just had," Rhoades said.

The positive players will return to Richmond via land transportation and go straight into isolation, according to McLaughlin.

He added that the team would not do anything differently in hindsight.

"We did the right things," he said. "I don't know if its bad luck, it's just terrible. There isn't anything we would change."

Stay with WTVR.com and watch CBS 6 News for complete coverage of this developing story.