Photo via FSU Hoops/Twitter
It’s becoming a thing for Florida politicians to declare victory off the field.
Late Friday, hours after most sports in America went dark because of the spread of COVID-19, Florida senators voted 33-2 to pass a resolution (SR 1934) declaring Florida State University’s men’s basketball team national champions. The reason: “by default upon cancellation of the NCAA tournament.”
Sen. Joe Gruters, a Sarasota Republican and Florida State alum, justified his claim in part because of a tournament prediction by basketball TV announcer Dick Vitale. Gruters didn’t fully list the national rankings, where the 28-3 Kansas Jayhawks were the unanimous first-place team in the weekly USA Today and AP polls when the arenas went dark.
“This is not obviously binding or anything else, but this is for the Florida Senate and us to recognize our heroes and these guys that have done such an amazing job this season,” Gruters said on the Senate floor shortly before 11 p.m. Friday.
Ranked fourth nationally with a 26-5 record, the Seminoles won the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season and, as the No. 1 seed, were declared the winner of the ACC postseason tournament when it was canceled due to COVID-19.
In 2018, Florida lawmakers jumped on board efforts to proclaim the University of Central Florida as college football national champions. The logic: Alabama defeated Georgia in the college football championship game, after Auburn had defeated Alabama. And the UCF Knights, who were not invited to the college playoffs, completed an undefeated season by beating Auburn in the Peach Bowl.
Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, all bars and nightclubs in Florida were closed on March 17 for 30 days. As of March 18, Central Florida restaurants are still open for takeout and delivery, and grocery stores are open during limited hours. Follow CDC guidelines and Orange County advisories on staying safe.