After Syracuse men’s basketball head coach Jim Boeheim struck and killed a man with his car Wednesday night in what police described as “a tragedy and an accident,” ESPN decided to pull the College GameDay broadcast they had planned to air from Syracuse’s campus Saturday morning ahead of the Orange’s game with the Duke Blue Devils Saturday night. That’s as per Mike Waters of Syracuse.com (the website affiliated with the Syracuse Post-Standard), who reported the news Thursday afternoon. (Earlier Thursday, Waters reported that ESPN planned to go ahead despite news of the crash.) Here’s what Waters wrote Thursday afternoon:
ESPN officials have decided to cancel Saturday’s scheduled broadcast of College GameDay from the Carrier Dome in light of Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim’s involvement in a fatal car accident late Wednesday night.
…“Due to the recent tragedy, and after careful consideration due to the celebratory nature of the show, ESPN’s College GameDay will originate from ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn., this weekend, instead of at Syracuse University,” read a statement sent out ESPN media relations representative Anna Negron. “We spoke with school officials and they understand the decision.”
In a statement shortly after ESPN’s announcement, Syracuse Director of Athletics John Wildhack said: “We respect ESPN’s decision to originate College GameDay from Bristol this weekend and appreciate their concern for our community during this difficult time.”
The GameDay account also sent out a tweet about this:
Due to the recent tragedy, and after careful consideration due to the celebratory nature of the show, College GameDay will originate from ESPN headquarters in Bristol, CT this weekend, instead of at Syracuse. We spoke with school officials and they understand the decision.
— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) February 21, 2019
While it’s unfortunate for Syracuse fans to have a highly-anticipated event like this pulled, especially as GameDay hadn’t been there since 2014, and unfortunate for ESPN to do a pre-game show from the studio instead of from a live backdrop of fans, this move probably makes sense for both sides. “The celebratory nature of the show” is accurate, as in both football and basketball, GameDay tends to be more upbeat than somber. And that’s not really a fit with the tragic incident that happened Wednesday. (It’s as yet undetermined if Boeheim will coach Saturday.) But it will be interesting to see if and how ESPN discusses that incident, both during GameDay and during the game broadcast itself.