The ACC announced Thursday that it is canceling the remainder of the ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament in response to the outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States.
The announcement comes following several decisions made by the NCAA and other sports organizations in an attempt to slow the outbreak, which has been declared a “global pandemic” by the World Health Organization.
The NBA announced Wednesday night that it would postpone its season indefinitely after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for the virus. Additionally, other collegiate conferences — including the Ivy League, Big 12, Big Ten and SEC — have already cancelled their respective conference tournaments.
Before cancelling the tournament, the ACC released a statement Wednesday noting it would restrict attendance to essential personnel, student-athlete guests, limited school administrators, broadcast television staff and credentialed media members. The ACC also said it would take preliminary response measures including an increase of hand-sanitizer stations and frequent cleaning of common areas.
However, after “continued conversations surrounding the fluidity of COVID-19,” the ACC and Commissioner John Swofford decided to cancel the ACC Tournament’s remaining games minutes before the tipoff of the quarterfinal matchup between Florida State and Clemson in Greensboro, N.C.
For tournament qualification purposes, Florida State — the ACC regular season champion — will earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
“We are disappointed for our student-athletes, schools and fans to have to make this decision; however, the overall health and safety of all involved is the priority,” the ACC said in a statement.
As of press time, the NCAA Tournament is still scheduled to be played starting next Thursday, March 19. However, NCAA President Mark Emmert announced Wednesday that the championship events will only be conducted with essential staff and limited family attendance. However, Emmert stated that the NCAA will continue to monitor the situation and make adjustments as needed.
“While I understand how disappointing this is for all fans of our sports, my decision is based on the current understanding of how COVID-19 is progressing in the United States,” Emmert said yesterday. “This decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and, most importantly, our student-athletes.”