Major conference tournaments continuing with fans as coronavirus restricts NCAA Tournament access

The ACC planned for its two Wednesday night conference tournament basketball games to be played as scheduled with fans in attendance, but the league revealed in a Wednesday afternoon tweet that it “will evaluate the remainder” of its conference tournament following the news that the NCAA Tournament will be held without fans amid growing concern over the coronavirus.

“More information will be forthcoming,” read the ACC’s tweet. The event is scheduled to run through Saturday at Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, N.C. 

Other major conferences took similar approaches on Wednesday as the college basketball world grappled with the aftermath of the NCAA’s decision to restrict NCAA Tournament access to “only essential staff and limited family attendance.” The NCAA Tournament is scheduled to begin Tuesday in Dayton, Ohio, and continue through April 6 when a national champion is scheduled to be decided in Atlanta, Georgia.

The NCAA’s move left individual leagues to figure out if they should follow their lead and restrict attendance at conference tournaments that are scheduled to continue through Sunday. The SEC, which tips off its tournament on Wednesday evening in Nashville, planned to play its first-round games with fans as of Wednesday afternoon.

“Tonight’s SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament games will continue as regularly scheduled,” SEC associate commissioner Herb Vincent wrote in a tweet. “We are evaluating plans for the remainder of the tournament. More to come.”

The Big East and Big Ten also released statements suggesting their tournaments would continue with fans allowed.

“At this time the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament will continue to be held as scheduled,” the Big Ten’s statement  read.

Other leagues, such as the MAC and Big West, restricted their conference tournaments to the public before the NCAA’s decision on Wednesday, while the Ivy League cancelled its league tournaments — and all spring sports — amid concern over the coronavirus. Though the major conferences are proceeding with fans at their tournaments for now, most announced measures earlier in the week designed to prevent the spread of the disease, such as not allowing media in locker rooms.

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