ESPN/AP -The Power 5 leagues — the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC and Pac-12 — canceled their men’s basketball conference tournaments on Thursday.
Also announcing that their tournaments would not be played were the American, Atlantic 10, Conference USA, MAC, America East, Big Sky and WAC.
At this moment it looks like the NCAA will likely cancel March Madness and we will see how they handle the championship.
The Big East briefly continued its tournament, as St. John’s and Creighton played the first half of their quarterfinal matchup before the conference announced its cancellation and ended that game at halftime.
Within minutes of one another, the five most high-profile conferences in college sports announced that the remainder of their tournaments would not be played. All were preparing to play games in large arenas across the country, but with few people in the buildings.
“We believe that it’s the right decision to make at this particular point in time,” ACC commissioner John Swofford said. “You can ask, ‘Why was it not made sooner?’ It’s a fair question. The answer is that it’s an extraordinarily fluid situation with information coming to us that changes. I used to say by the week, then I say by the day, and now I say by the hour. So hopefully we’re doing the right thing in the context of this great country of ours and in the context of intercollegiate sports.”
ACC top seed Florida State was awarded the league’s championship trophy in an odd ceremony with Swofford in a mostly empty arena.
In Kansas City, Missouri, Texas and Texas Tech were going through pregame warm-ups and the handful of close family and friends were already in the stands when the teams were pulled off the court 40 minutes before tipoff.
“I think this is emblematic of how our country will be responding to a very unusual set of circumstances,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsy said. “I feel good that we made the right decision for the right reasons.”
Addressing the Big Ten’s decision to cancel, Michigan coach Juwan Howard said in a statement that “some things are bigger than basketball.”
The Big 12, MAC and America East women’s basketball tournaments were also among the cancellations.
Beyond basketball, the Pac-12 announced that all conference sporting events would be canceled until further notice. The Big 12 said other conference championships, including gymnastics and equestrian events, were off through April 15. The SEC said it is suspending all competitions on home campuses until March 30.
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said the recommendation from the NCAA’s COVID-19 panel against holding sporting events open to the public “literally changed the game for us.”
On Wednesday, the NCAA announced that the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments would be played without fans in attendance. The NCAA said only essential staff and limited family members would be allowed to attend the games.
The decisions continue ongoing actions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which was labeled a pandemic Wednesday by the World Health Organization.
For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
The vast majority of people recover from the virus. According to the WHO, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.