MAC cancels all sports for rest of school year; all NCAA championship, including basketball tournaments, are off amid coronavirus outbreak

All sports are done for the year for Mid-American Conference schools.

It probably will be true for the rest of the country by tomorrow.

The Big Ten canceled all sports at mid-afternoon. The MAC announcement came at about 6 p.m.

The NCAA announced it was canceling all championships for the winter and spring, including the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments due to start next week.

All of the cancellations are designed to help contain the spread of the coronavirus, or COVID-19, its official name.

“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 decisions by other entities,” the NCAA said in a statement.

Developing ESPN story.

A really good analysis of the situation by ESPN.

The MAC statement canceling all competition said the decision was made by Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher in consultation with the MAC Council of Presidents and Council of Directors of Athletics.

Key points of the statement:

  • Cancellation of  regular season and championship contention for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year.
  • Suspension of formal and organized practices until further notice.
  • Suspension of off-campus recruiting and official and unofficial recruiting visits. Recruiting can only be done by letters, emails, text messages and phone calls, following NCAA regulations.

Kent State Athletic Director Joel Nielsen issued a statement agreeing with the MAC’s decision.

“We will continue to provide all necessary resources for our student athletes, coaches and staff during this difficult time,” the statement said. “This includes academic support to our student athletes as the campus transitions to remote instruction.

“Our main priority is the health, well-being and safety of our student-athletes, coaches and staff as we continue to monitor the coronavirus.”

The MAC basketball tournaments were canceled at noon, even as Ohio and Toledo men’s teams were warming up for a 1 p.m. quarterfinal game.

“It is incredibly disappointing in terms of the kids having a chance to compete further because I know this is a pinnacle event,” MAC commission John Steinbrecher said at a press conference canceling the tournament. “But simply from a public health standpoint, this seems the appropriate course of action.”

Transcript of MAC commissioner’s press conference on tournaments.

Developments cascaded through afternoon, with announcements from the NCAA, the MAC and other conferences.

The women’s quarterfinals Wednesday were played in a nearly empty Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. The MAC had been among the first league to bar most tournament spectators to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus

But Wednesday events, especially the NBA’s postponement of its season, changed things. Power Five Conferences had canceled their tournaments by this morning.

The NCAA Tournament makes more than a billion dollars a year (yes, $1 billion) from television rights. Much of that is shared with individual schools.

The WNIT and NIT, the major tournaments for teams that don’t make the NCAA, were canceled. The MAC always placed multiple teams in them. Both Kent State teams would have been candidates this season if they didn’t win the MAC Tournament.

Steinbrecher, the MAC commission, said one of the factor’s in the league decision was that two Utah Jazz players, recently diagnosed with COVID-19, had played in Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse last week. He and Len Komoroski, the chief executive of the Cleveland Cavaliers, said they thought there was little chance MAC players could have caught the virus because the Utah game was more than a week ago. The arena has been repeatedly sanitized since then.

The Kent State women’s story

Flashes’ tournament win avenges multiple losses to Buffalo.

Shumate, Blackford make all-freshman team, Thall earns all-defensive honors.

The tournament cancellation is very sad for the Kent State women.

The Flashes just won their first quarterfinal game in 10 years, a 72-66 win over Buffalo Wednesday night.

They were the No. 3 seed in the tournament and could have been considered the favorite to win the championship. No. 1 seed Central Michigan and No. 2 seed Ball State both were upset in Wednesday’s play.

KSU senior Megan Carter, who scored 12 points in what may have been her last game Wednesday, tweeted today:

And minutes later came another Carter tweet:

Junior forward Monique Smith tweeted:

I plan another post on Wednesday’s game and the season later today or tomorrow.

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