The Southeastern Conference men’s basketball tournament has been canceled, the league announced Thursday about an hour before the University of Alabama’s game with Vanderbilt in Nashville. Later Thursday morning, the league announced that all sporting events through March 30 would be canceled, as well, extending to sports such as baseball, softball, golf and tennis.
If those sports come back, they will not have a championship to play. The NCAA announced Thursday afternoon that it is cancelling all winter and spring championships. The marquee events of the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, the College World Series and the Women’s College World Series were all cancelled as a result.
The decision was made due to the threat of the coronavirus, which the World Health Organization declared a Pandemic on Wednesday.
“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,” a statement by the league read.
The SEC is currently leaving it up to its members schools on its own spring football practice schedules; UA was supposed to have its first spring practice on Friday. As of 3 p.m. on Thursday, UA has yet to announce its spring football practice plans.
The ban impacts a total of 44 potential UA athletic events: 12 baseball games, 12 softball games, two men’s golf tournaments, a women’s golf tournament, five men’s tennis matches, six women’s tennis matches, one gymnastics meet and the SEC Gymnastics Championship, two rowing events, one spring soccer match, three outdoor track and field events.
That tally does not include the men’s basketball team’s SEC Tournament game(s) or potential NIT games for both the men and women’s basketball teams.
UA sent an email to around 1 p.m. Thursday afternoon to season ticket holders with more information on ticket refunding process. Single-game ticket holders who purchased their tickets through UA will be refunded in the next seven to 10 business days; season ticket holders will receive prorated refunds at the end of the cancellations and attendance restrictions, if they follow the cancellation.
#Alabama just sent an email to season ticket holders (and presumably others) with information on ticket refunds while games are canceled and/or under attendance restrictions. pic.twitter.com/UB2eEn9F0p
— Brett Hudson (@Brett_Hudson) March 12, 2020
On the men’s basketball front, Alabama coach Nate Oats and the Crimson Tide left the arena after the announcement and headed back to the team hotel to figure out what to do from here.
Two games were played on the opening day of the tournament Wednesday. Georgia defeated Ole Miss while Arkansas defeated Vanderbilt.
The Big Ten and Big 12 tournaments are also canceled. The SEC originally decided Wednesday to proceed with the games but without fans and just have key personnel in attendance.
Mark Emmert, the NCAA president, announced Wednesday that the NCAA Tournament will go on but without fans and “only essential staff and limited family attendance. This decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and, most importantly, our student-athletes.”
This story will be updated with more.