Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby announced the conference’s men’s and women’s basketball tournaments are canceled for 2020 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“After consultation with our Board of Directors it was decided that cancelling these championships was in the best interest of the health and safety of our student-athletes,” Bowlsby said.
The Big 12 made the call alongside the Big Ten, SEC, AAC and ACC, all of which canceled their respective tournaments on Thursday morning. The Ivy League was the first conference to make the decision to cancel on Tuesday.
“We believe this is the right thing,” Bowlsby said. “I feel terrible for the seniors involved in this tournament, this was an opportunity for them to be on the last time through the Big 12 Tournament. It’s unfortunate, it could be the last basketball that they have a chance to play as college kids.”
Wednesday, the Big 12 announced it would restrict fan access to tournament games that would go into place during the quarterfinal round of the men’s tournament and first round of the women’s tournament. Now, instead of playing the games in nearly empty arenas, there will be no games at all.
“The situation is fluid and the safety of all involved has to be the priority,” WVU athletic director Shane Lyons said in a statement. “Yesterday, the conference made a decision based on the best information available at that time. Today, the Big 12 acted swiftly and appropriately to further ensure that we do our part in containing COVID-19. While everyone is disappointed, based on the information provided by health care officials, this decision is the right call.”
The Big 12 also announced the cancellation of its upcoming gymnastics and equestrian championships. The league says it will reevaluate the status of championships for its spring sports and make a determination by April 15.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed for our team, our staff and all of Mountaineer Nation, particularly in light as to how our team responded so well in recent games and practices after a tough stretch of the season,” said WVU men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins. “However, this is a very serious matter globally and the health and safety of all involved is the priority.”
The status of this year’s NCAA Tournament is still uncertain as well. Bowlsby said he did not want to speculate on the status of that competition.
“It’s hard to tell whether there’s going to be an NCAA Tournament to play in, or if it’ll look different than the March Madness we’ve come to know,” Bowlsby said. “I think there are probably lots of different options on the table right now but I haven’t been a party to the discussions on.”