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Charlie Crist urges NCAA to give Florida State men’s basketball a chance at championship

He’s asking NCAA to eventually hold basketball tourney.

Florida State alum and Seminoles fan Rep. Charlie Crist is urging the NCAA to not give up entirely on March Madness.

Perhaps it could be May Madness. Or August Insanity.

Bottom line: while Crist said shutting down collegiate sports including the NCAA men’s and women’s “March Madness” college basketball tournaments over coronavirus concerns was both “prudent and fully-justified,” he’d like to see Florida State, at least the fourth-ranked men’s team, given a shot at the crown.

On Thursday, the NCAA announced the tournament’s cancellation due to the spread of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, of which there have been over 2,200 confirmed cases in the U.S. and more than 50 confirmed deaths.

Crist, a St. Petersburg Democrat, said he supported that decision to protect players and fans.

Still, he sent a letter to 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.

“As a Florida State University 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,” Crist wrote.

“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,” he continued. “We need something to cheer for, quite frankly, in these uncertain times.”

He probably could get support for that proposal from the fans of the University of Kansas, Gonzaga University and the University of Dayton, which are ranked first, second and third.

“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,” Crist argued.

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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