A Virginia Team in the Championship Game

CNU guard Jahn Hines.  Photo credit: CNU Athletics

by  Dick Hall-Sizemore

During this time of year, the sports world is fixated on the NCAA Division I basketball tournament. Richmond fans give the VCU Rams a big sendoff.  Hokie fans cheer their top-seeded women’s team. UVa. alumni die a little bit inside when the Cavaliers lose to Furman in the last seconds. Despite being assured in 2019 by the administration that, upon the firing of long-time basketball coach Tony Shaver, it was time for a “new chapter” in  Tribe basketball to include participation in the NCAA tournament; William and Mary alumni and fans are still waiting.

However, there is another basketball venue in which two Virginia schools are powerhouses: Division III. Last year, Randolph-Macon College in Ashland won the national championship. Before its defeat in the Sweet Sixteen earlier this month, it had compiled a record 64-home-game winning streak. Talk about giving the fan base some excitement!

The other Virginia college in top of the Division III tournament is Christopher Newport University in Newport News. Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams made the Final Four. This was the fourth time in the programs’ history that the men’s and women’s team have made the Final Four (although not in the same year until now). The men’s team made it to the Elite Eight last year. The women’s team was undefeated this year. Yesterday, the men’s team won its semi-final game to make it to the championship game for the first time.

If you pine for the “good old days,” Division III is the answer. [Full disclosure:  my grandson swims for a Division III school. Unfortunately, for me, it is not in Virginia.] These are the real “student-athletes.” There are no athletic scholarships. There is no high pressure recruiting, with frequent hints of scandal. There are no “one and dones.” There are no players jumping from school to school via the transfer portal. It is rare that a Division III player goes on to the pros. These players put in all the hours required for practice, in addition to their regular course load, because they love the sport they are in, participating on a team, and representing their school.

The CNU men play for the championship on Saturday. Reportedly, it will be televised on the CBS Sports Network. It is not clear whether it will be 3:00 or 4:00. The CNU women’s semi-final championship will also be on Saturday at 5:00. It does not seem that it will be televised.

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14 responses to “A Virginia Team in the Championship Game”

  1. walter smith Avatar
    walter smith

    Fond memories of when VUU rocked and had the “White Shadow” coach and produced a fair number of pros…

    1. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
      James Wyatt Whitehead

      Dave Robbins. The hall of famer few know about.

  2. Thanks for the tip. I’ll be rooting for CNU.

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      I, too, shall root for the Captains. Compelled to.

  3. DJRippert Avatar

    What a disappointment yesterday with the Virginia – Furman game. UVa has a bad habit of getting bounced from the NCAA Tournament by seemingly lesser teams. UMBC, Ohio, now Furman.

    As for me, I’m “all in” for Furman. I mean, how can you fail to root for a team nicknamed the Palidans?

  4. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    On March Madness, I’m all in for Penn State. That should mean I won’t waste more than a few days.

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      One of my sons went to Penn State so I’m a fan as well.

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        We can commiserate shortly I suspect.

      2. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        Well, that didn’t take long. They just couldn’t get inside. But, for one brief moment… So brief I missed it when I left the room for a pitstop.

  5. Stephen Haner Avatar
    Stephen Haner

    As the member of the W&M student senate from Ludwell Apartments my junior year, I made a motion that started a commotion. The resolution called for the school to downgrade football or eliminate it, and transfer the money to the basketball program. At that time William and Mary Hall was a new and very attractive facility. Partly I meant it and partly I just wanted to cause a row, but it started a pretty good debate, forced President Graves to come to the Senate and oppose the idea (and it never went anywhere). Imagine how small the sports subsidy fee charged to students was in those days, compared to now.

    You may catch a little grief, Dick, for not highlighting the women’s team at Virginia Tech this year. Fabulous season. I know your point was to encourage more interest in Div. 3. Sports coverage beyond the most popular Div. 1 schools is another victim of the slow death of the newspapers.

    1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
      Dick Hall-Sizemore

      When I was writing the article, I realized that, except for the scholarships, most of what I said about Division III schools was applicable to the women’s teams. And, you are right–I did shortchange the Va. Tech women’s team.

      I am getting an initiation into women’s basketball this year. My brother lives in South Carolina and is a long-time fervent fan of the USC women’s basketball team. The women’s basketball regionals (Sweet Sixteen and Elite 8) are being held this year in Greenville, S.C., about an hour away from where he lives. The Gamecocks are in that regional bracket and are heavily favored. (They are the only Div. 1 undefeated team.) He has tickets to the games and I will be going down next weekend to attend them with him. He may ultimately be torn in his loyalties because he is a Tech alumnus. Unfortunately, Tech is in the other regional bracket and, if they make it to the regionals, will be playing in Seattle, so I will not be able to see them play as well.

  6. Randy Huffman Avatar
    Randy Huffman

    Wholeheartedly agree with what Dick says and his assessment. My youngest son graduated from CNU ten years ago running Track and Cross Country all 4 years (3 season sports), he had a wonderful experience and got a great education.

    I will add that not every D1 sport has stands full of spectators, scholarships for most and professional opportunities afterwards for the elite athletes. Swim teams, track, cross country, rowing, wresting, volleyball, field hockey and many others (sorry if I missed your favorite) have few scholarships to spread around to a few of the best athletes. The majority do it because they love the sport and competition, they are truly student athletes.

    1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
      Dick Hall-Sizemore

      I agree with you that sports other than football and basketball in Division 1 have a scholar-athlete quality to them.

  7. Carter Melton Avatar
    Carter Melton

    There is simply too much money rolling through Division 1 athletics these days: billions in tv money; coaches, administrators, and conference heads making 10’s of millions; and now nil for the athletes. It has truly corrupted what was left of the scholar-athlete myth. Just wait until Las Vegas figures out how to buy individual athletes through nil, and the gambling scandals will probably cause the whole sordid mess to impload or explode.

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