Coaches slam NCAA volleyball tournament setup, lack of locker rooms

Ryan Young
·Writer
·3 min read
The NCAA logo
Players are set to compete in makeshift courts in convention halls and won't get access to locker rooms for the opening rounds next week. (Mike McLaughlin/NCAA Photos/Getty Images )

The NCAA’s equity issue at the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, it seems, has spilled over into the NCAA Division I volleyball tournament.

Wisconsin coach Kelly Sheffield and Nebraska coach John Cook complained on Thursday about the set up for the tournament next week at the CHI Health Center in Omaha, Nebraska.

The two raised serious concerns about the venue for the first rounds of the tournament, the lack of locker rooms available to teams and the fact that the first rounds won’t be broadcasted.

“I really hope they take a closer look at that. I have a feeling that could blow up as much as what the weight room stuff did in women's basketball," Sheffield said, via the Associated Press. "It's stunning they're not [having] a broadcast team. To me it's just lazy ... that you're just going to be looking at silence while watching NCAA tournament games."

Players don’t get locker rooms for first rounds

The tournament was moved to a single site this season, just like the basketball tournaments, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The field was cut down from 64 teams to 48, too.

Because of the switch, the first three rounds of the tournament will be played at convention halls in Omaha before the final rounds move to the arena next door. In the convention halls, four makeshift courts will be set up in each of the two halls.

"It's going to come across as a high school type of deal," Sheffield said, via The Associated Press. "It should feel special. For a lot of people that won't be the case."

Players also won’t get access to a locker room in the opening rounds, something that left many baffled.

The NCAA said in a statement that “players were never expected to change clothes on the bench,” but Cook isn’t sure how that’s going to work.

"Volleyball players warm up and then change into their uniforms," Cook said, via The Associated Press. "How does that work if you're in the middle of convention Hall C?"

ESPN will stream the first two rounds of the tournament, which however will do so without any announcers or analysts. The semifinals and championship matches will be on ESPN2.

"I really hope they take a closer look at that. I have a feeling that could blow up as much as what the weight room stuff did in women's basketball," Sheffield said, via The Associated Press. "It's stunning they're not [having] a broadcast team. To me it's just lazy ... that you're just going to be looking at silence while watching NCAA tournament games."

The issues with the volleyball tournament mirror that of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament. Players at the event in the San Antonio area took to social media to point out the inequities between their event and the mens’, including the lack of “March Madness” branding, no true weight room and more.

The NCAA and president Mark Emmert apologized for the “inexcusable” setup, and has hired a law firm to investigate the handling of all championship events.

Thought the change to a single site makes sense from a coronavirus standpoint, Cook doesn’t get why the tournament holds games across the Omaha and Lincoln areas in venues actually capable of holding the games.

"That's a lot nicer of an NCAA tournament because those are three great facilities [and better] than the setup they have now, which is in a convention center, no locker rooms, no bathrooms," Cook said, via The Associated Press. "It's going to be interesting how this is all pulled off."

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