Updated: NCAA Cancels Winter and Spring Championships, including March Madness
Pac-12 and other conference tournaments around the country also canceled Thursday
March Madness will continue in 2020, but without an NCAA basketball champion.
The governing body of collegiate athletics in the U.S. has canceled March Madness, both the Division I men’s and women’s 2020 basketball tournaments, and all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships. In a statement distributed Thursday afternoon, the NCAA notes “this decision is based on the evolving Covid-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decision by other entities.”
Less than three hours before the scheduled tip-off between No. 1 Oregon and No. 8 Oregon State, the Pac-12 Conference announced it was canceling the remainder of the Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament in Las Vegas. In a statement distributed Thursday morning, the conference added it is also canceling “all Pac-12 sport competitions and Pac-12 Championship events, effective immediately, until further notice.”
In response to the novel coronavirus and Covid-19 outbreak, other conferences also canceled their post-season tournaments, including the American Athletic Conference, Atlantic 10 Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten Conference, Big 12 Conference and the Southeastern Conference. As the day continued, other men’s basketball conference tournaments canceled on a rolling basis.
“Reluctantly, we came to the conclusion we needed to follow suit. I say reluctantly, as we really feel for our fans that are here in Las Vegas, the student-athletes that want to play in front of fans, and they’re not going to be able to,” Pac-12 Conference Commissioner Larry Scott said in an interview on Pac-12 Network Thursday, referring to the other conferences’ decisions.
The Pac-12 Conference had been in contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local health authorities for months to protect the health of student-athletes, fans, staff and other participants. “We have been trying to keep up at every step of the way with the advice from leading medical experts and public health authorities, and on top of that, the leading 12 universities in the country with some of the best medical schools and amazing medical research,” Commissioner Larry Scott noted. “We’ve had access to incredible intelligence on this [novel coronavirus] from our 12 universities.”
The news from the Pac-12 Conference comes a day after major professional leagues in the U.S., including the NBA and MLS, suspended its seasons due to health and safety concerns. The MLB and NHL made similar announcements Thursday afternoon.