The Ivy League has pulled the plug on its men’s and women’s basketball conference tournaments in the wake of the coronavirus spread. Officials said the decision was made with guidance from medical professionals advising against large gatherings.
Rather than go forth with the Ivy League conference tournaments at Boston’s Lavietes Pavilion, regular season conference winners Yale (men’s program) and Princeton (women’s program) will receive automatic bids into the NCAA tournament.
“We understand and share the disappointment with student-athletes, coaches and fans who will not be able to participate in these tournaments,” said Ivy League Executive Director Robin Harris in a statement. “Regrettably, the information and recommendations presented to us from public health authorities and medical professionals have convinced us that this is the most prudent decision. Following a number of league-wide discussions throughout the last several weeks, we have decided to exercise caution in the interest of student-athletes, fans and the general community.”
This marks the first NCAA conference tournament to be cancelled over coronavirus fears as questions loom over the fate of March Madness. NCAA President Mark Emmert maintained Tuesday that the national tournament will go on as planned this month and the Ivy League’s cancellation of its tournament was dependent on school officials.
“NCAA member schools and conferences make their own decisions regarding regular season and conference tournament play,” Emmert said in a statement. “As we have stated, we will make decisions on our events based on the best, most current public health guidance available. Neither the NCAA COVID-19 advisory panel, made up of leading public health and infectious disease experts in America, nor the CDC or local health officials have advised against holding sporting events. In the event circumstances change, we will make decisions accordingly.”
Fans will seemingly get answers in the coming days, as the NCAA issued a second statement Tuesday regarding the proper health protocols that will ultimately decide whether or not games take place.
“The NCAA continues to assess how COVID-19 impacts the conduct of our tournaments and events,” the organization expressed in a statement late Tuesday. “We are consulting with public health officials and our COVID-19 advisory panel, who are leading experts in epidemiology and public health, and will make decisions in the coming days.”
California’s BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament is the only other major sporting event in the U.S. to be cancelled due to the coronavirus.