The 2021 NCAA Volleyball Tournament is set to begin this Wednesday but the NCAA’s setup of the event is already receiving criticism. The first two rounds of the tournament will not include broadcast crews or commentators, despite fan attendance not being prohibited. In addition, the NCAA faced backlash for not providing locker rooms for the athletes early in the tournament.
— NCAA Women's Volleyball (@NCAAVolleyball) April 9, 2021
2021 NCAA Volleyball Tournament Backlash
In response to COVID-19, the tournament was moved to a single location at CHI Health Center in Omaha, Neb. In addition, the bracket was reduced from 64 to 48 teams. The first three rounds of the tournament will be played within convention halls before moving to the nearby arena for the remainder. According to ESPN, the first two rounds will be streamed but without play-by-play announcers.
Florida finished the 2020-21 season with a 19-3 record in the SEC-only format. This record grabbed the Gators the No. 8 seed and awarded them a bye for round 1 of the tournament. Head Coach Mary Wise expressed her disappointment via Twitter.
“What if I told you more girls play volleyball than any other HS sport? What if I told you the NCAA tourney was reduced by 25%?,” said Wise. “And what if I told you there were no TV announcers for 1st & 2nd rounds?”
In addition, the NCAA faced backlash over the type of flooring provided for players to compete on. The eight practice courts within the area consist of sport court layering over cement flooring. This has been deemed unsuitable by several coaches and presents higher injury risks.
Per multiple @NCAAVolleyball coaches, the 8 practice courts in the convention center are sport court layered over cement flooring.
This is very high risk for injury and NOT suitable for players' safety — especially any players jumping repeatedly.
— Emily Ehman (@emilyehman) April 8, 2021
Coaches also commented on the locker room situation. It appears that players are expected to change into their uniforms courtside or in hallways prior to matches.
Nebraska plays at the NCAA Volleyball Tournament in less than a week. #Huskers head coach John Cook has some concerns.
"The volleyball players warm up and then they change into their uniforms. How does that work when you're in the middle of Convention Hall C?" pic.twitter.com/bzVktIv9gv
— Kevin Sjuts (@kevinsjuts) April 8, 2021
— Daniel Jones (@CoachDLJones) April 9, 2021