The National Junior College Athletic Association announced on Monday afternoon the remainder of the spring activities and the basketball national tournaments would be canceled.
The Butler Grizzlies were one of three Kansas teams set to take part in the women’s national tournament, along with Seward County and Hutchinson.
"We're all devastated," Butler women’s head coach Mike Helmer said. "We are emotional for the world and the United States. It's a hard one to swallow."
Helmer has seen a team that went through so much adversity to start the season with a new group of players, gel into a formidable bunch that felt like they had a chance to win it all.
"We were at Willie’s celebrating Thursday night," Helmer said. "Then on Thursday, we’re told it was done."
The NJCAA initially delayed the Division I and II national tournaments until April 20. However, with the CDC’s recommendation of limiting events to 50 attendees or less for at least eight weeks, the decision was made to shut it down.
"In light of the progressive evolvement of the COVID-19 situation, the NJCAA has decided to end all competition for the remainder of the academic year," stated Dr. Christopher Parker, NJCAA President & CEO. "As an association, the NJCAA exhausted all possible avenues to potentially postpone competition for both upcoming basketball championships and spring sport competition. We believe following the recommendations of the CDC is in the best interest of our member colleges and our student-athletes."
The NJCAA has also made the move to not charge any spring student-athlete with a year of participation. How that will effect scholarships going forward is to be decided.
Along with the cancellation of competition, the recruiting has been stopped until April 15 when it can be re-evaluated.
The NJCAA will explore the opportunity to expand allowable Letters of Intent for spring sports for both the 2020-21 and 2021-22 academic years under the recommendation of the NJCAA Eligibility Committee.
So ends the season of the Grizzlies, finishing the year 25-8 and back-to-back Region VI Champions.
"We had never won a region tournament before this sophomore class," Helmer said. "Not only did we win one, they win two. They'll go down as one of the best sophomore classes ever."
The class finishes with a 53-13 record, two Region VI titles and two national tournament selections.
"It's a crazy way to end it," Helmer said. "I'm devastated. We're never going to have that closure."
We usually have one last meeting to say things. Now, the only way we'll come back is to pick up stuff. You hope you can find a way to meet but you never know."
For Butler as they deal with the historic change within their sport, the student-athletes try to cope and understand what’s going on.
"I think they get it now," Helmer said. "Four or five days ago, I don’t think they did because it was all so new. I think they do now."