On Saturday, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., sent a letter to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) President Mark Emmert, asking that the organization remain open-minded about holding a full or modified version of the men and women’s March Madness collegiate basketball tournament once the public health risks surrounding the novel coronavirus subside.
On Thursday, the NCAA announced the tournament’s cancellation for the first time in the history of its existence due to the spread of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. Crist supports that decision to protect players and fans.
Crist’s letter is below:
Dear President Emmert,
Given the national health crisis we face from COVID-19, your actions to halt all winter and spring NCAA championships were prudent and fully justified. This is a global pandemic, and the health and well being of our student athletes and the American people are paramount.
As a Florida State University (FSU) alumnus and fan, I have enjoyed the extraordinary women’s and men’s basketball seasons. The men’s team in particular is having one of their greatest seasons ever — earning their first ACC regular season championship, ranked number four in the nation. For Seminole nation, it is a bittersweet moment.
To that end, I would ask that you remain open-minded on holding at least some version of March Madness if and when the public health risk subsides. Not just because of my personal interest in the success of my beloved Seminoles, but because of how popular the tournament is by millions of Americans. We need something to cheer for, quite frankly, in these uncertain times. And a full or modified tournament, for both men’s and women’s basketball, might be just what we all need when this crisis passes. I suspect many of the kids and coaches who have poured their hearts and souls into this season would also gladly welcome the chance to compete for their one shining moment.
I greatly appreciate your diligent efforts to advance and strengthen college athletics, especially during these challenging times. Thank you for your consideration.