SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The Pacific-12 Conference called off its post-season men’s basketball tournament Thursday, joining the Big 10, Big 12, Southeastern Conference and several others as collegiate athletic officials address the growing fears of the growing coronavirus outbreak.
In a press release, the conference — representing the largest universities on the West Coast and headquartered in San Francisco — said it made the difficult decision wits its fans and player in mind.
“This decision has been made in consultation with our member universities in an effort to limit the spread of the virus and in the interest of the health and safety of our student-athletes, campus personnel, working and event personnel, and those who attend Pac-12 events,” the league said.
The announcement from all the conference came within minutes of each other, the five most high-profile conferences in college sports said that the remainder of their tournaments would not be played. All were preparing to play games in large arenas across the country, but with few people in the buildings.
The Pac-12 tournament, being played in Las Vegas, was set to stage its quarterfinal games on Thursday. Oregon was slated to face off against Oregon State, USC was set to take on Arizona, UCLA was going to play California and Arizona State was scheduled to play Washington State.
It was not known what the conferences action will have on the upcoming NCAA Tournament.
On Wednesday, the NCAA announced the men’s and women’s tournaments would be held without fans in attendance, with only essential staff, players and coaches and family member allowed to attend the March Madness games over concerns about the coronavirus spread.
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“I have made the decision to conduct our upcoming championship events, including the Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, with only essential staff and limited family attendance,” NCAA President Mark Emmert in a statement. “While I understand how disappointing this is for all fans of our sports, my decision is based on the current understanding of how COVID-19 is progressing in the United States.”
The decision comes a few days after NCAA Basketball Senior Vice President Dan Gavitt said the NCAA was “definitively planning on running the tournament at all 14 sites with fans.”
The NCAA Tournament generates more than $900 million dollars for the association and its hundreds of member schools.
Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said it’s “hard to tell right now whether there will be an NCAA Tournament to play in” while announcing the Big 12 was shutting it down.
Texas and Texas Tech were going through pregame warmups and the handful of close family and friends were already in the stands Thursday when the teams were pulled off the court 40 minutes before tip-off.
“I think this is emblematic of how our country will be responding to a very unusual set of circumstances,” Bowlsy said. “I feel good that we made the right decision for the right reasons.”
Also, canceling tournaments were the American Athletic Conference in Fort Wort, Texas; the Sun Belt in New Orleans; the Western Athletic Conference in Anaheim, California; and the Mid-American Conference in Cleveland at an arena that is home to the NBA’s Cavaliers and is scheduled to be the site of NCAA men’s tournament games next week.
The semifinals and finals of the Sun Belt men’s and women’s tournaments were set to be played Saturday at the Smoothie King Center, where the NBA’s Pelicans play and the site of this year’s women’s Final Four.
© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.