TRURO – The NSAC Rams men’s basketball team woke up Sunday morning hopeful it wouldn’t be their last day of the season.
By the time team members went to bed that night, their hope had given way to disappointment.
The Bible Hill school announced late Sunday in an email by athletic director Judy Smith it was opting out of its host berth at the national championship at Langille Athletic Centre March 15 to 17. Their spot will be filled by the ACAA’s runner up, which will be determined March 2 to 4 at Holland College.
“It’s never easy when you’re not providing everything you can for your student athletes,” Smith said Monday. “You try to give them the best possible experience but I don’t think we had the results and the record to support being there.”
Rams coach Colter Simmonds said he suspected that would be the decision before meeting with Smith following the Rams’ 80-51 loss to the Holland Hurricanes Sunday in their final game of the regular season. The results left he Rams seventh in the eight-team conference with a 2-19 record.
Simmonds said he is torn over the issue, feeling for his players while also understanding the decision process.
“There’s a lot of mixed feelings about it,” he said. “I support the integrity of the game but I support my guys having the opportunity to get an experience they’ll have for the rest of their lives.”
This marks the first time the NSAC has forfeited its spot at a national basketball championship, hosting the men’s event in 2007, 2002, 1995 and 1988. They also hosted the women's tournaments in 2008, 2003, 1995, 1988 and 1980.
Several conferences have regulations in place requiring teams to meet certain performance standards before being allowed to host a national event. In the ACAA, the decision whether or not to compete is left up to the teams.
The players were informed of the decision by Smith’s email. None were available for comment at press time.
Simmonds said he is disappointed his players won’t get the chance to play in a national tournament in their own gym.
“I don’t coach just for wins and losses,” he said. “I coach because I enjoy it, I love the game and enjoy learning something every game as coaches and players.”
Smith said having the Rams watching from the stands is not a scenario she wanted either.
“It’s better for everybody if the local team is in the event,” she said. “Nobody likes to make that decision but for the integrity of the event I feel we made the right one.”