John Cook concerned with NCAA Volleyball Tournament setup
Nebraska's volleyball coach says there's growing concern among NCAA coaches for how the tournament is set up.
LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — John Cook once again has concerns with how the NCAA Volleyball Tournament is being run, including a lack of locker room space for the players to change in. However, the NCAA says changing areas will be provided for all players.
Nebraska volleyball, the No. 5 overall seed in the tournament, will travel to Omaha for the event on Monday with its first game on Thursday. The Huskers will quarantine in their hotel for two days before they can practice for the first time on Wednesday. Of course, the team will be tested for COVID-19 daily.
“We just don’t want to sit in the hotel all day,” Cook said. I know what results that brings. We’re trying to be creative on that.”
However, it’s the layout of the matches that has Cook the most concerned.
All matches will be held inside a convention center. Cook said on Wednesday there is no clear answer on whether the teams will even have locker rooms when they play their matches.
“The volleyball players warm up and then they change into their uniforms,” Cook said. “How does that work when you’re in the middle of Convention Hall C?”
Late Thursday night, the NCAA said it would provide changing area for the student athletes.
“Players were never expected to change on the benches,” the NCAA said in a statement.
Cook said he would have liked to see the NCAA branch out to other facilities like the Devaney Center, Sokul Arena and Baxter Arena for the matches.
“I think that’s a lot nicer of an NCAA Tournament because those are three great facilities than what they have right now,” Cook said. “It’s a convention with no locker rooms, no bathrooms. It’s going to be really interesting on how this is all pulled off.”
There is also concern the flooring will be inadequate for such a venue. Cook has expressed frustration there wouldn’t be any padding underneath “sport court” on top of the cement floor.
The NCAA has also said it will now provide padding for the courts.
“To address concerns about the practice court flooring in the convention center – felt underlayment is applied to each practice court to apply cushioning and prevent court movement,” the NCAA said in a statement. “Taraflex floor will be laid over felt underlayment and sport court floor for the first three rounds of competition.
“Starting with the regional finals, matches will be played in CHI Health Center Arena on a Sport Court over a wood sport flooring system, which has been the traditional set-up for the championship.”
Also on Wednesday, multiple reports indicate that the first couple rounds of the tournament will be aired exclusively on ESPN3, without any play-by-play or color commentary.
The NCAA confirmed these reports on Wednesday, saying there is not a requirement “to produce coverage of or provide live commentary in the first and second rounds” of the tournament. Announcers will call matches remotely for the regional semifinals and regional finals before moving on-site for the Final Four and National Championship matches.
Cook also confirmed that the travel roster will be reduced to just 27 members for each team. That includes only 17 players and then 10 for coaches and other team personnel. Cook said he had to make some tough decision
The NCAA Volleyball Tournament begins on April 14 and runs through April 24th. The Elite Eight rounds will be the first time fans or media will be allowed to attend any matches in-person.
Nebraska’s first match is scheduled for April 15 at 2:30 p.m. against either Utah Valley or Texas State.