NCAA conferences cancel tournaments amid wave of concern

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A general view of empty seats as the Florida State Seminoles warm-up prior to the quarterfinals round of the 2020 Men’s ACC Basketball Tournament at Greensboro Coliseum on March 12, 2020 in Greensboro, North Carolina. The remainder of the tournament will be played with only essential tournament personnel, limited school administrators and student-athlete guests, broadcast television and credentialed media members in attendance due to concerns over the possible spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images

College basketball canceled several championship tournaments Thursday as sports organizations across the world rolled out fan restrictions and suspensions of play in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Southeastern Conference, Big Ten Conference, Pac-12 Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference said Thursday they have canceled their men’s championship tournaments. It’s not immediately clear whether women’s tournaments have also been canceled, or how the conference cancellations could affect the NCAA March Madness tournament.

On Wednesday, the NCAA announced that the upcoming men’s and women’s March Madness basketball tournaments, which are scheduled to begin in days, would be played without fans.

The Big Ten is halting the remainder of its tournament and said it would “work with the appropriate medical experts and institutional leadership to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The SEC is also canceling the remainder of its conference tournament. The SEC’s regular season champion, the University of Kentucky, will be awarded the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

The ACC said it is canceling the remainder of their tournament immediately and Florida State will represent the conference as ACC champion for “NCAA tournament automatic qualification purposes.”

The pandemic is upending sports worldwide amid concern that large public events will increase the likelihood of transmitting COVID-19.

The Pac-12 halted the remainder of its men’s basketball tournament and went a step further, canceling all Pac-12 sport competitions and conference championship events indefinitely.

Major League Soccer suspended its season for 30 days on Thursday.

The National Basketball Association on Wednesday night suspended the remainder of its season indefinitely after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for the illness.

There are currently more than 1,300 confirmed cases of COVID-19, in the United States and at least 38 deaths. There are more than 127,000 cases worldwide and at least 4,718 deaths attributed to the virus. 

—CNBC’s Spencer Kimball contributed to this report. 

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