It was a bit of a shock when 24-8 South Carolina was left out of the 2016 NCAA Tournament. But no one was more surprised than head coach Frank Martin -- especially since NCAA officials had called during the Selection Show to tell him the Gamecocks were in.
South Carolina Athletic Director Ray Tanner confirmed on Thursday that his men's basketball team fielded two calls from the NCAA on Selection Sunday. One was to tell the Gamecocks they had been invited to the Big Dance. The other, 10 minutes later, was to regretfully inform USC there had been a mistake.
Tanner, Martin, and the Gamecocks were told they would not have a chance to compete for a national championship. Instead, their bid would go to conference rival Vanderbilt. The Commodores wound up as an 11-seed in a First Four matchup against Wichita State. They lost, 70-50.
That gaffe relegated South Carolina to the NIT, where it routed High Point before ending its season with a blowout loss to Georgia Tech.
On Thursday, the NCAA admitted fault in the misunderstanding. Here's its official statement from vice president of men's basketball championships Dan Gavitt (courtesy of Fox Sports' Stewart Mandel).
Poor South Carolina got its hopes up. pic.twitter.com/Bedy0nDa2w— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) March 31, 2016
That explanation doesn't jibe with Tanner's description of events, which suggests at least one phone call was made. However, it's clear the NCAA screwed up -- possibly by sending news meant for the tournament-bound University of Southern California to the NIT-bound University of South Carolina.
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