Ivy League Cancels Conference Basketball Tournaments Due to Coronavirus Outbreak

On Tuesday, the Ivy League announced that it would be canceling its men’s and women’s conference basketball tournaments due to growing concerns over the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), several outlets report. The tournament was scheduled to take...

Ivy League Cancels Conference Basketball Tournaments Due to Coronavirus Outbreak

On Tuesday, the Ivy League announced that it would be canceling its men’s and women’s conference basketball tournaments due to growing concerns over the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), several outlets report.

The tournament was scheduled to take place this Friday through Sunday at Harvard University’s Lavietes Pavilion in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Due to the cancellation, the league’s regular-season champions — Princeton women and Yale men — were named the automatic qualifiers for the NCAA Tournaments.

“We understand and share the disappointment with student-athletes, coaches and fans who will not be able to participate in these tournaments,” Ivy League Executive Director Robin Harris said in a statement. “Regrettably, the information and recommendations presented to us from public health authorities and medical professionals have convinced us that this is the most prudent decision.”

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The league will also be implementing “highly-restrictive” limitations on in-venue spectators for upcoming campus sporting events, as well as canceling all out-of-season practices and competitions.

“Following a number of league-wide discussions throughout the last several weeks, we have decided to exercise caution in the interest of student-athletes, fans and the general community,” Harris said.

Harvard men’s basketball star Bryce Aiken condemned the league’s decision Tuesday morning, saying it was “wrong on so many levels.”

“Horrible, horrible, horrible decision and total disregard for the players and teams that have put their hearts into this season,” Aiken wrote. “This is wrong on so many levels and the @IvyLeague should do its due diligence to find a better solution. Everyone knows the risks of playing!”

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According to The Harvard Crimson, a petition to reinstate the tournament circulated online after the announcement, criticizing the league for canceling the tournament while allowing other sporting events to continue.

Harris reportedly addressed the criticism to the outlet, explaining that regular competitions are much smaller than the conference tournament — which would have brought eight teams and traveling spectators to Harvard’s campus.

The NCAA also released a new statement following the Ivy League’s cancellation on Tuesday, reiterating that schools and conferences “can make their own decisions on regular season and conference tournament play.”

They also noted that, “We will make decisions on our events based on the best, most current public health guidance available. Neither the NCAA COVID-19 advisory panel, made up of leading public health and infectious disease experts in America, nor the CDC or local health officials have advised against holding sporting events. In the event circumstances change, we will make decisions accordingly.”

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While the Ivy League tournament was the first at the Division I basketball level to be canceled because of the outbreak, it joins hundreds of other global sporting events that have been impacted by the pandemic.

On Monday, the MLB, MLS, NBA, and NHL announced in a joint statement that news media and any non-essential personnel will now be temporarily barred from entering the locker rooms of athletes to protect players from the growing threat of the virus.

“These temporary changes will be effective beginning with games and practices,” the statement said. “We will continue to closely monitor this situation and take any further steps necessary to maintain a safe and welcoming environment.”

The NBA has also discussed the possibility of playing future games this season without fans in attendance.

As of Wednesday afternoon, March 11, there have been at least 1,032 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 31 deaths in the United States, according to The New York Times database.