Scrubbed: March Madness leads long list of canceled sports

(AP/Gray News) - The world’s sports schedule is cratering at warp speed due to coronavirus.

The NCAA has canceled the men’s and women’s Division I basketball tournaments amid fears of causing the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, it announced Thursday.

FILE - In this April 8, 2019, file photo, Virginia's Kyle Guy (5) and his teammates celebrate after defeating Texas Tech 85-77 in overtime in the championship of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament in Minneapolis.
FILE - In this April 8, 2019, file photo, Virginia's Kyle Guy (5) and his teammates celebrate after defeating Texas Tech 85-77 in overtime in the championship of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament in Minneapolis. (Source: AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

The move puts an abrupt end to the season less than a month before champions were to be crowned.

The decision comes a day after the NCAA announced the games that were scheduled to start next week would go on but played in mostly empty arenas.

That plan was scrapped as every major American sports league from the NBA to MLB put the brakes on its season due to concerns about the pandemic.

The NCAA canceled all of its spring championships in every sport, which include hockey, baseball and lacrosse.

Earlier, several conferences announced cancellations on Thursday amid a coronavirus pandemic.

Other organizations are limiting attendance or calling off games.

All major conference basketball tournaments were canceled Thursday, including the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 12, ACC, Big East and Big South.

Other tournaments stopped included the Atlantic 10, AAC, MAC, Big Sky, WAC, Big West, Conference USA, Sun Belt and Southland. The Ivy League had previously canceled its games as well.

“Based on the latest developments and the continued spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Southeastern Conference today announced the cancellation of the remainder of the 2020 Men’s Basketball Tournament in Nashville,” the conference announced on Twitter.

“The main priority of the Big Ten Conference continues to be the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, fans and media as we continue to monitor all developing and relevant information on the COVID-19 virus,” the Big Ten said in a statement.

The Atlantic Coast Conference announced Florida State will represent the league as the ACC champion for “NCAA Tournament automatic qualification purposes.”

In a tweet, Big 12 reported all their Conference championships have been suspended until April 15 and their Phillips 66 Big 12 Basketball Championship has been canceled as a result.

Pac-12 said in a tweet the decision was made in “an effort to limit the spread of the virus, and in the interest of the health of our student-athletes, campus personnel, working and event personnel, and all those who attend Pac-12 events.”

The Mid-American followed suit and canceled the remainder of their tournament.

The Big East Conference was the latest to cancel their tournaments. The league’s Quarterfinal game was canceled during halftime.

Conference USA announced that, effective immediately, the remainder of their 2020 Air Force Reserve Men’s Basketball Championship would be canceled.

The American Athletic Conference announced their decision to cancel the 2020 Air Force Reserve Men’s Basketball Championship. The championship was to take place March 12 to March 15 in Dallas.

NAIA has also announced they have canceled all of their remaining winter championships.

“We will continue to monitor COVID-19 developments and NAIA leadership will work closely with our member institutions to determine the best path forward for future NAIA events, including all spring 2020 championships,” NAIA reported in a press release.

All decided the risk of playing games with the threat of the virus hanging over them was too great.

There are billions of dollars hanging in the balance.

But commissioners and league presidents determined the risk of mass gatherings in the wake of the spreading virus is too big to take.

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