Editor’s note: This story is part of The Daily Texan’s coverage of how coronavirus concerns are affecting UT-Austin. Read the rest of our coverage here.
The NCAA has canceled not only the Division I men’s and women’s 2020 basketball tournaments, but all remaining winter and spring NCAA Championships entirely, NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement Thursday afternoon.
“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,” Emmert said in the statement.
Aside from March Madness, this decision also cancels championship events such as the men’s and women’s College World Series, men’s and women’s track and field indoor and outdoor championships, men’s and women’s golf finals, and the men’s and women’s tennis finals, among several others.
This news comes the afternoon after 15 conferences across the country spent the day canceling their respective postseason basketball tournaments. Prior to the NCAA’s announcement, the Big 12 canceled the conference tournament and suspended all regular-season competitions, on- and off-campus recruiting and out-of-season practices until March 29.
“With the Big 12’s recent directive suspending athletics activities until Sunday, March 29, all regular-season Longhorn Athletics competitions will be cancelled until that date, beginning with our Baseball series on Friday,” Texas athletics director Chris Del Conte said in a statement.
Among the cancellations on the Forty Acres, the Texas Relays ranks as one the higher profile events affected by the Big 12‘s decision. The final stretch for the swimming and diving and nonconference play of baseball, tennis and softball will also come to a halt for the time being.
Del Conte said the Big 12’s announcement to suspend athletic events until March 29 forces them to postpone their decision regarding the start of spring football until the end of the month, while the spring soccer season was canceled altogether.
For Texas, this puts several teams’ seasons in jeopardy, including what appeared to be a promising season for the No. 3 Texas softball team and other nationally ranked teams, such as the No. 1 men’s swimming team, No. 4 men’s and women’s tennis teams, the No. 2 women’s and No. 4 men’s golf teams. It also obviously ends the run for the women’s and men’s basketball squads, the latter of which was set to play Texas Tech in a defacto play-in game Thursday morning with a bid to the now-canceled NCAA Tournament on the line.
The Longhorns and Red Raiders were pulled off the court at the Big 12 Championships on Thursday morning as the conference decided to cancel the tournament entirely.
“I pray everyone and their families are safe. It is an unfortunate and tragic situation we are facing but we have to overcome our adversities,” redshirt sophomore guard Andrew Jones said on Twitter. “I wish I could finished the season with my brothers #hookem.”
I pray everyone and their families are safe. It is an unfortunate and tragic situation we are facing but we have to overcome our adversities. I wish I could finished the season with my brothers #hookem
While the NCAA’s decision ends the possibility of any NCAA Championships for the remainder of the spring season, Division I conferences across the country still have the option to move forward with regular season play and postseason conference tournaments in the future.
“I’m surprised we’ve made a decision in March not to hold the baseball and softball events in June,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey told the SEC Network. “I’d love to know what went into those decisions.”
If the conferences follow the NCAA's path, a multitude of seasons could potentially come to a close. With this comes the potential premature end to the careers of seniors across the country. The NCAA has not yet stated how they will deal with the eligibility of these athletes.
The NCAA is now the latest organization to suspend or postpone its operations amid concerns over the coronavirus. The NBA, MLB and NHL also brought their respective seasons to a halt as COVID-19 continues to shake the sports world.
As for now, all programs, athletes, coaches and fans can do is wait in a world without sports.