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Oregon's Dana Altman: NCAA Tournament No-Contest Is Unfortunate Ending for VCU

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 21, 2021

Oregon head coach Dana Altman encourages his player during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against UCLA Wednesday, March 3, 2021, in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Andy Nelson)
Andy Nelson/Associated Press

Oregon men's basketball coach Dana Altman sympathized with VCU after the Rams were removed from the 2021 NCAA tournament for COVID-19-related reasons.

The NCAA announced Saturday the first-round encounter between Oregon and VCU would be ruled a no-contest, with the Ducks advancing to the second round.

Oregon shared a statement from Altman, who congratulated the Rams "on an outstanding season."

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"We hate to see a team's season end this way after all the hard work these student-athletes have put in," he said. "This isn't the way we wanted to advance, but we are excited to be moving on and we will start our preparation for Monday's game."

According to CBSSports.com's Matt Norlander, one member of the VCU traveling party was flagged for a positive COVID-19 test, and two more tests came back positive Friday night. That led the NCAA and local health officials to conclude the Rams would be unable to take the court.

Athletic director Ed McLaughlin addressed the matter.

"This isn't something where our team broke protocol and did the wrong thing," he told reporters. "We don't know how this happened, but it certainly wasn't bad behavior on our side. It's brutal. We can't confirm the numbers [of positive tests]. We had enough student-athletes to be able to play. We had plenty to start the game. Beyond that, we really can't tell how it started. It's impossible at that point."

Colorado State, Louisville, Mississippi and Saint Louis were placed on standby when the 68-team tournament field was revealed in the event a program was deemed ineligible due to the COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

However, the deadline to replace a team in the tournament passed Tuesday.

As a result, Oregon moves on and will play No. 2 Iowa or No. 15 Grand Canyon.