KANSAS CITY, Mo — The Big 12 men’s and women’s basketball tournaments have been canceled, conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby announced Thursday morning.
Those tournaments join tournaments of most other Division I conferences that have shut down, including Conference USA’s basketball tournaments in Frisco, Texas. Games there began Wednesday.
The Big 12 has put in place an immediate suspension of all conference championship activities until April 15 due to concerns about the continued spread of the coronoavirus, which wipes out both basketball tournaments this week in Kansas City as well as next week’s scheduled gymnastics championships hosted by West Virginia University in Morgantown.
The league initially took action Wednesday, announcing fans would not be permitted inside either arena for the men’s and women’s games scheduled for the remainder of the week.
Earlier in the day the NCAA announced it’s postseason national tournament would ban fans from attending.
On Thursday morning Texas and Texas Tech were scheduled to play a quarterfinal game and both teams had come to the court to warm up before being sent back to their locker rooms less than an hour before the scheduled 12:30 p.m. start time.
Kansas City mayor Quinton Lucas declared a state of emergency in the city Thursday morning, pushing the Big 12 to act fast.
“We have obviously canceled the tournament,” Bowlsby said in a Thursday morning press conference at the Sprint Center. “We did so for a variety of reasons, and we did it in consultation of a wide array of folks whose opinions we respect and we wanted to coordinate with. This morning I’ve been in touch with [NCAA president] Mark Emmert and my [Power 5] colleagues as well as other commissioners around the country. We’ve also been in almost constant contact with the [University of Kansas] med folks and public health folks in this area.
“Once the mayor declared a state of emergency, it hastened our discussions,” he added. “We spent time with our board of directors this morning who ultimately made the decision to cancel the tournament. Hard to tell at this point whether there is going to be an NCAA tournament to play in or if it will look different than the March Madness we’ve come to know. I think there are probably lots of different options on the table that I haven’t been a party to.”
Not only did Conference USA announce the cancellation of its basketball tournaments, but the conference also has suspended spring sports competition until further notice.