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No One Ignores Indiana's Mask Mandate Quite Like NCAA Coaches at March Madness

By Stephen Douglas
Abilene Christian v Texas
Abilene Christian v Texas / Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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VCU was eliminated from the 2021 NCAA basketball tournament on Saturday via a no-contest following positive COVID-19 tests inside the tournament's controlled environment in Indianapolis. College basketball and their covering media members have been very adamant that the controlled environment of March Madness is not like the NBA's Disney bubble and this has proved it. So what is a controlled environment exactly?

What is clear is that Indiana has a mask mandate which states that anyone over the age of two years old needs to wear a mask if they are inside, moving around and around people from outside their household. If you want to see a group of people routinely breaking the mask mandate, just turn on the tournament. Players, coaches and fans are seen wearing their masks improperly for two hours at a time.

Now, I'll allow a common sense (ha) exemption for the players on the bench. Those are the guys who are supposed to be tested every day. The controlled environment was constructed to protect them so they can provide the NCAA with content to put on CBS, TBS, TNT and TruTV.

But the coaches. What the hell. These guys are inside pulling down their masks every three seconds. Either to talk to someone right next to them or scream to a player. The masks are such a joke that I saw at least one assistant coach with a mask around his chin hold a piece of paper in front of his face so no one would be able to read his lips. There's performative and then there's coaches being given masks. Or face coverings of any kind really. Here's Josh Pastner, who in theory wears a face shield so people can see his face while he keeps those around him safe. Turns out face shields easily convert to visors.

Josh Pastner
Georgia Tech v Loyola Chicago / Andy Lyons/Getty Images

If there is a single coach you can't find sporting what some like to call a "chin diaper," please, send them along. I just searched "NCAA coach" on Getty and the subjects of the photographs were all nice enough to give the photographers a full look at their faces.

Mick Cronin
UCLA v BYU / Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Shaka Smart
Abilene Christian v Texas / Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images
Dan Hurley
Maryland v UConn / Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Lon Kruger
Missouri v Oklahoma / Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Darian DeVries
Drake v USC / Sarah Stier/Getty Images
Rick Pitino
Iona v Alabama / Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Juwan Howard
Texas Southern v Michigan / Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

I didn't have the heart to scroll all the way back to Friday's games because I know it's going to be more of the same. No matter how seriously any of these coaches take COVID, when there's a bad call or a player to be yelled at, they need to make sure they can read their lips.

At least the NFL was in a position to fine coaches. Presumably the NCAA isn't doing anything because they lack the ability to fine coaches and make money off this.

With VCU (and some officials) penetrating the controlled environment and coming within a few hours of playing a game, you would think someone would step in and tell the coaches to uses their masks as we enter the round of 32, but I doubt that happens. You just have to wonder how long until the next team becomes a no-contest and how that happened. It seems impossible to tell in a "controlled environment."

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