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.
One day after the NCAA canceled all winter and spring sport championships due to concerns about COVID-19, the Big 12 announced it was canceling all athletic competition for the remainder of the academic year.
In a statement released on the Big 12 website Friday evening, the conference also suspended all team-related activities until March 29.
“Due to the on-going developments related to COVID-19 the Big 12 Conference announces that all organized team activities whether organized or voluntary, including team and individual practices, meetings, and other organized gatherings, have been suspended until March 29 and will be re-evaluated at that time,” the statement said. “In addition, all conference and non-conference competitions are cancelled through the end of the academic year, including spring sports that compete beyond the academic year.”
Due to the on-going developments related to COVID-19 the Big 12 Conference announces tha conference and non-conference competitions are cancelled through the end of the academic year. https://t.co/HMW72DXg0U.
Texas Athletics Director Chris Del Conte also released a statement following the Big 12’s decision.
"The most significant news of the day came this evening when, in addition to the Big 12's previously announced suspension of athletics activities until March 29, the conference also decided to cancel all athletic competition for the remainder of the spring season,” Del Conte said in the statement. “It was a hard piece of news to share with our teams since they've worked so hard in preparation for this year.”
The decision comes a day after the Big 12 suspended all athletic play until March 29. The NCAA’s decision to cancel spring championships allowed for the conferences to individually decide how to handle the remainder of the spring regular seasons and conference tournaments. The Big 12 is the second Power Five conference to shut down all athletic competition for the remainder of the academic year after the Big Ten did so Thursday.
The cancellation has widespread effects on athletics at the Forty Acres. Texas softball, currently the nation’s No. 3 team, and baseball were both in the midst of nonconference play. The No. 4 men’s and women’s tennis teams were also in nonconference competition, and Texas’ top 10 men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams were slated to perform in the NCAA Championships in the coming weeks.
Additionally, the track and field season comes to an end a day after the annual Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays and the NCAA indoor championships were canceled, as well as the men’s and women’s golf seasons.
Del Conte also updated on the status of student-athletes during the following weeks, saying that they are encouraged to return home, but that many facilities will remain open.
“During that time, we're encouraging student-athletes to go home and take care of themselves, understanding that some will need to remain on campus,” Del Conte said in the statement. “The dorms will continue to be available and dining halls are accessible, as well, but there will be no practice, strength and conditioning work, athletic training room availability or team functions. However, our sports medicine staff will be available for our student-athletes to contact remotely.”
The NCAA announced earlier Friday that it would grant “eligibility relief” for student-athletes involved in spring sports, potentially allowing for the return of athletes whose senior seasons were abruptly ended.