Iona College will have a more difficult shot to make the NCAA Tournament this year after being forced to cancel the remainder of its men’s basketball regular season due to COVID-19.
The college announced on Monday, Feb. 22 that the five remaining scheduled regular-season games have been canceled after another Tier 1 member of the team tested positive, requiring quarantines, which left the team with too few student-athletes to fill out the roster.
Iona, which is 8-5 overall and 6-3 in the conference, is scheduled to begin its conference tournament on Monday, March 8. The Gaels are coming off back-to-back wins over league-leading Monmouth.
The Gaels had been in the NCAA Tournament every year between 2016 and 2019 under former coach Tim Cluess. Last year's tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
School officials noted that any student-athlete that is cleared by the health department, NCAA, and MAAC protocols can remain training during the pause in activity for those who cannot.
“This is extremely unfortunate news to learn at a time so late in the season,” Iona head coach Rick Pitino said. “I feel awful for our student-athletes who worked so hard to get back following our pause that lasted nearly two months.
"The pandemic is still very real, and ultimately the health and safety of those around the program is most important,” he added. “We look forward to returning and competing in the MAAC Championship in March.”
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