Rutgers spurns WNIT bid after not being pick for NCAAs
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — After failing to get a berth in the women’s basketball NCAA Tournament, Rutgers and coach C. Vivian Stringer decided not to play in the WNIT.
The Scarlet Knights (20-12) were among the eight finalists for the four remaining spots in the NCAA field. Buffalo, Creighton, Minnesota and Oklahoma got in. Rutgers, Purdue, Southern Cal and West Virginia were the first four teams out.
In a statement released late Monday night, Stringer said she felt in her heart that the team deserved an NCAA bid.
“It pains both the players and the staff to not have our name called this evening,” she said. “We have decided that our season should end at this point and focus on the future and putting ourselves into a position to control our destiny come next season.”
Stringer was not available for comment Tuesday, a school spokeswoman said.
The WNIT said Rutgers initially accepted a bid to play in the tournament and then changed its mind. Stephen F. Austin was then added to the 64-team field.
Rutgers had a turnaround season after posting a 6-24 mark last year. However, it struggled down the stretch and won three of its final nine games.
Still, the Scarlet Knights had a higher Ratings Percentage Index than either Minnesota or Creighton.
“We spent almost seven hours yesterday going over those last eight teams, really talking about everything,” NCAA women’s basketball committee chair Rhonda Bennett said. “I think every one of those teams was right on the cusp of getting in. We took a look at them and feel really good about the decision that we came to.”
She added that Rutgers’ record in the final month, a ninth-place finish in the Big Ten and losses to Northwestern (175 RPI) and Washington State (114) hurt it.
The decision to skip the WNIT means Stringer will not win her 1,000th game until next season. She is three wins shy of the milestone.