NCAA basketball tournaments canceled in response to coronavirus threat

Just a day after the NCAA announced that conference tournaments would continue on without paid fans in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, several of the conferences moved to cancel altogether.

NCAA president Mark Emmert issued a statement on Wednesday announcing that championship events would continue but “with only essential staff and limited family attendance” as COVID-19 continues to impact sporting events across the globe.

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“This decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and, most importantly, our student-athletes,” he said. “We recognize the opportunity to compete in an NCAA national championship is an experience of a lifetime for the students and their families.”

But on Thursday, several conferences announced that they would be canceling their tournaments — some just hours away from the opening rounds.

Here are the conferences that have canceled championship tournaments for the 2019-2020 season:

BIG 12 CONFERENCE:

Commissioner Bob Bowlsby announced Thursday that the Big 12 has canceled the men’s and women’s basketball tournament in order to minimize the spread of COVID-19, despite no players or coaches testing positive for the illness, according to the Kansas City Star.

“I feel terrible for the seniors that are involved in this tournament,” he said. “I feel particularly bad for the players... in the interest in heeding the advice we were hearing ... cancellation was the right outcome.”

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SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE

The Southeastern Conference took to Twitter Thursday to announce it would be canceling the remainder of the men’s tournament despite starting a day earlier.

“Based on the latest developments and the continued spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Southeastern Conference today announced the cancellation of the remainder of the 2020 Men's Basketball Tournament in Nashville,” the statement read.

BIG TEN CONFERENCE

The Big Ten Conference issued a statement on Thursday announcing it would be canceling the men’s basketball tournament “effective immediately.”

“The main priority of the Big Ten Conference continues to be the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, fans and media as we continue to monitor all developing and relevant information on the COVID-19 virus,” the statement read.

AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE:

Commissioner Mike Aresco announced Thursday that the men’s basketball championship, scheduled to take place just hours later, would be canceled.

“The decision was made in consultation with the Conference’s leadership in light of recent developments regarding the spread of the COVID-19 virus. This is a proactive decision to protect the safety, health and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and staff and all involved with the tournament,” a statement posted to the official website read.

ATLANTIC 10 CONFERENCE:

Commissioner Bernadette V. McGlade issued a statement on Thursday announcing that the men’s basketball championship tournament, set to be held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, would be canceled.

“These are uncertain times for sure, and we feel tremendous empathy for the student-athletes who will not have the opportunity to finish competing. However, the welfare of the student-athletes and the public is of utmost importance,” her statement read.

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CONFERENCE USA:

Conference USA announced in a brief statement that it would be canceling both the men’s and women’s basketball championship tournaments “effective immediately.”

MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE

Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher held a press conference Thursday announcing that they would be canceling both the men’s and women’s basketball championship tournaments.

WESTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE:

After initially suspending the championship tournaments, the Western Athletic Conference announced Thursday that it would be canceling them altogether.

“The Western Athletic Conference has announced the cancellation of the Hercules Tires WAC Basketball Tournaments presented by TicketSmarter. This decision has been made based upon new information, including the recommendation of the NCAA's COVID-19 advisory panel,” the statement read.

ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE:

The Atlantic Coast Conference announced on its official website Thursday that it would be canceling the remainder of the men's basketball championship tournament.

"We are disappointed for our student-athletes, schools and fans to have to make this decision; however, the overall health and safety of all involved is the priority," the statement read.

MISSOURI VALLEY CONFERENCE

The Missouri Valley Conference announced Thursday it was canceling its women's basketball tournament amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“The Missouri Valley Conference announced today that it has canceled the MVC Women's Basketball Tournament scheduled to begin today at TaxSlayer Center in Moline, Ill.  In addition, the MVC has announced that all Conference spring sports contests have been suspended through March 30, effective immediately,” the conference said in a statement.

“The main priority of the Conference continues to be the well-being and safety of its student-athletes, administrators, coaches, media and fans," it continued. "The league and its institutions will continue to work closely with local governments and health departments in monitoring the COVID-19 situation internationally and domestically.”

BIG EAST CONFERENCE:

The Big East was in the middle of its men's basketball tournament when it announced it was going to cancel.

"Following a call with our Presidents and Athletics Directors and additional consultation with the City of New York, the BIG EAST Conference has canceled the remainder of our men's basketball tournament, effective immediately.  We believe the decision is in the best interests of our participants and fans."

PAC-12 CONFERENCE:

The Pac-12 Conference has teams located near the epicenter of the coronavirus in the U.S., which makes sense why the conference tournament was going to be canceled.

“This decision has been made in consultation with our member universities in an effort to limit the spread of the virus and in the interest of the health and safety of our student-athletes, campus personnel, working and event personnel, and all those who attend Pac-12 events.”

AMERICA EAST CONFERENCE:

The America East Conference canceled both the men's and the women's tournaments following the rest of the NCAA world.

“The decision was made in consultation with the conference's leadership in light of the recent developments regarding the spread of the COVID-19 virus. This is a proactive decision to protect the health, safety and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and everyone on our campuses,” the conference said in a statement.

BIG SKY CONFERENCE:

The Big Sky Conference was among the leagues to make a decision to cancel their conference tournaments.

“This decision was not made lightly, as we know how meaningful our basketball championships is to our student-athletes, coaches, alumni, and fans,” Big Sky Commissioner Tom Wistrcill said in a statement. “After consulting with medical experts, local authorities, and the leadership of our institutions, we feel that this decision is prudent given the health and well-being of all involved.

“We would be remiss not to acknowledge all of our local partners who helped us increase the interest in and attendance at our tournament this year, and we look forward to welcoming those fans back when we return to Boise in March 2021.”

METRO ATLANTIC ATHLETIC CONFERENCE:

The MAAC was holding its tournament in New Jersey when the word came down other conferences were canceling.

“In response to the immediate and ever-growing concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and its Council of Presidents have unanimously decided to cancel the remainder of its current conference tournament currently being held in Atlantic City, New Jersey,” the conference said in a statement.

MID-EASTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE:

The MEAC was one of the last conferences to cancel their tournaments.

“Friday and Saturday’s semifinal and championship rounds will see restricted attendance. Attendance will be restricted to players, coaches, officials, event staff, essential institutional staff, conference staff, credentialed media and student-athlete guests. This is based on the current climate surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19),” the conference said in a statement.

THE IVY LEAGUE:

The Ivy League announced Wednesday that in addition to canceling the championship tournaments, they would be canceling all spring athletics practice and competition through the remainder of the academic year.

“In accordance with the guidance of public health and medical professionals, several Ivy League institutions have announced that students will not return to campus after spring break, and classes will be held virtually during the semester. Given this situation, it is not feasible for practice and competition to continue,” a statement posted to the official website read.