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Ivy League cancels tournaments; 2 different conferences bar followers

FILE – In this file photo dated March 17, 2019, Yale players pose for a photo with the championship trophy after seeing Harvard in one NCAA defeated a college basketball game for the Ivy League Championship at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. The Ivy League canceled its men's and women's basketball tournaments on Tuesday, March 10, 2020, due to concerns about the spread of the corona virus. The four-team tournaments were scheduled from Friday to Sunday at the Lavietes Pavilion in Cambridge, and the Ivy League is instead awarding its NCAA automatic tournament offerings to regular season champions, Princeton women and Yale men. (AP Photo / Jessica Hill , File)

The Ivy League canceled its men's and women's basketball tournaments on Tuesday, and two other Division I conferences have announced that it will restrict fans' access to their postseason games due to concerns about the spread of the novel corona virus.

The four-team Ivy League tournaments were scheduled to take place from Friday to Sunday at the Lavietes Pavilion in Cambridge. The Ivy League will instead award its NCAA automatic tournament offerings to the regular season champions, Princeton women and Yale men.

Later on Tuesday, the Mid-American Conference announced that it would introduce restricted participation in its men's and women's basketball tournaments in Cleveland this week. This announcement followed Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, who recommended playing all of the state's indoor sporting events without on-site spectators.

The Great West said that its men's and women's basketball tournaments in Southern California are played without spectators. Most of these games are played at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.

The Ivy tournaments are the first at Division I level to be canceled due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.

In most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, this can lead to more serious diseases, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people are recovering from the new virus.

Conference tournaments have been taking place across the country at large and small venues since last week. Most of the largest conferences, such as the Big Ten and the Southeastern Conference, start their men's tournaments in major arenas in major cities this week.

Division I men's and women's NCAA tournaments begin next week. The NCAA quickly responded to the Ivy League announcement and said it plans to play its games at the proposed locations without making fan access adjustments, but is monitoring the situation.

"NCAA member schools and conferences make their own decisions regarding the regular seasonal and conference tournaments," said NCAA President Mark Emmert in a statement Tuesday. "As we have noted, we will make decisions about our events based on the best and most current public health guidelines available."

A few hours later, DeWine announced its recommendation that all high school, college, and professional teams in Ohio should play without spectators. The NCAA released another short, less definitive statement.

"We are consulting public health officials and our COVID-19 Advisory Board, who are leading experts in epidemiology and public health, and will make decisions in the coming days," said the NCAA.

The first four games of the NCAA men's tournament are scheduled to take place in Dayton, Ohio, and the first and second round games are scheduled for Cleveland on March 20 and 22.

CBS and Turner Sports held a conference call for reporters on Tuesday to discuss the NCAA men's tournament with network leaders and some high-profile announcers such as Jim Nantz and Charles Barkley.

Sean McManus, chairman of CBS Sports, and Jeff Zucker, chairman of WarnerMedia News and Sports, said the NCAA was in constant contact with its television partners. They said that decisions about whether to postpone or cancel games or restrict fans' access to venues are made solely by the NCAA.

"Obviously it would be a different atmosphere and we would not focus on the excitement of the fans as so often," said McManus. "The basketball game is still produced as if fans were in the stands."

The Ivy League announced on Tuesday that it will restrict viewers at all other sporting events for the rest of the spring season.

The Princeton, New Jersey-based league said the decision was "made in accordance with instructions from public health and medical professionals to discourage large gatherings on campus in the face of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and." restrict. "

Robin Harris, executive director of the Ivy League, said in a phone interview with the AP on Tuesday afternoon that the league presidents had spoken about emergency plans for a few weeks. It was only on Tuesday morning that the presidents decided to cancel the tournament.

“You spent a lot of time on it. It's a decision they didn't take lightly, ”said Harris. “They consulted with their experts on campus. They are groups that meet several times a day to develop guidelines. We are so devastated for the student athletes. "

Harris said the decision did not relate to the location. It was about "gathering a group that would be larger than our schools allowed on their campus for non-sporting events," she said.

Harris said a fanless gym would still have too many people in the building due to the tour groups of the eight teams and those working on the event.

The league said all tickets should be refunded and ticket holders should contact the Harvard ticket office with any questions.

The women's tournament was to begin on Friday evening, with Princeton competing against Columbia with the highest seed and Penn competing against Yale with the second seed. The winners should meet in the championship game on Saturday.

Columbia, which was supposed to play in the women's tournament for the first time, was just about to start training when trainer Megan Griffith shared the news.

“Their hearts are broken. Completely devastated. They should be, ”said Griffith. “We understand that there are health risks. This is not to be taken lightly. We do not know which alternatives have been discussed. It is difficult to swallow. "

The league held a conference call with coaches and other school staff on Monday to discuss tournament logistics. Penn women's basketball coach Mike McLaughlin said it was a "typical call where you say what to say".

“There wasn't much depth behind it. I think we all knew something would change. It wouldn't sit like it did a year ago. I didn't feel like it would be canceled immediately. "

When McLaughlin found out about the cancellation, he quickly called his team together so that the players could find out from him and not through social media.

"When (McLaughlin) said it, I was immediately shocked," said Penn senior Kendall Grasela. "We get the bid for the WNIT, but we have no chance to fight for an NCAA slot." … I collapsed, I could have played my last college game and I didn't even know it. "

Grasela spoke to the other team captains. The group contacted the other Ivy League schools and launched an online petition to resume the tournament.

McLaughlin, Griffith and Grasela were all upset about what they consider inconsistent in the league because other sports can still play this weekend and beyond while basketball doesn't.

"It is difficult to swallow. We try to deal with it," said McLaughlin. "We cannot play and now they find that other sports can play." There is an inconsistency in the news. "

The men's tournament was to start on Saturday with Yale against Penn, followed by Harvard with number 2 against Princeton. The men's championship game was scheduled for Sunday.

"It's a bittersweet moment for us," said Yale spokesman Mike Gambardella. "We are happy that our men receive an (automatic bid), but are disappointed that our women cannot fight for a championship."

Visit Inquirer Varsity for full coverage of college sports, including scores, schedules, and stories.

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