Madness in March: COVID-19 concerns cause WAC Tournament cancellation
WAC’s on, WAC’s off
The 2020 WAC men’s and women’s basketball tournament has officially been cancelled, among many other conference tournaments across America, due to the COVID-19 outbreak scare. The tournament was set to take place at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada from March 11-14.
A statement on the cancellation from WAC officials was made Thursday morning, March 12, which can be found here.
A situation on Wednesday night, March 11, caused early concern when the final game of the opening round of the women’s basketball tournament was postponed. The game between sixth-seeded CSU Bakersfield and third-seeded Grand Canyon was set to tip-off at 8:30 p.m. PST. Just minutes before, both teams were moved off the court and the media was asked to leave the arena.
It was reported later that night that a student-athlete from the conference was taken to the hospital to get tested for coronavirus. As a precaution, the WAC decided the postponement was the best action.
The Utah Valley women’s team was the final game that was played on Wednesday night, March 11, as they were able to finish off their season. They ultimately fell to Seattle University, 61-48.
The UVU men’s basketball team was slated to play SU on Thursday night, March 12, at 8:30 p.m. PST.
UVU head coach Mark Madsen addressed his team briefly at breakfast before they had to pack up and leave the hotel.
“It’s tough… we were all set to do this thing and now we’re going to talk to the guys,” said Madsen.
So, as it now stands the seniors of the UVU men’s team officially played their final collegiate game a week prior on Thursday, March 5.
“Obviously we’re kind of disappointed, we came out this season to set a goal to win the WAC tournament so we could make it to the NCAA tournament. Obviously that’s a reality that we have to face now that it’s not gonna happen,” said senior guard Bradley Kitchen. “I just feel bad for these guys that are seniors, me included. We kind of just end our season without a chance to prove ourselves.”
The Wolverines end the 2019-2020 season with records of 11-19 overall and 5-10 in WAC play.
Though the WAC tournament, and every other major conference tournament have been cancelled, the NCAA tournament has not yet been ruled out. It has been postponed but not yet cancelled. If it does resume at some point, the New Mexico State Aggies will represent the men and the Kansas City Kangaroos will represent the women as the automatic bids.
The WAC also announced in a separate statement that there is a suspension of all spring conference competitions until further notice.
The NCAA has since cancelled both the men’s and women’s Division I college basketball tournaments known as March Madness. All remaining winter and spring NCAA championships have also been cancelled. Word on the status of the NIT is still awaited, though it also is likely to be cancelled.
The UVU Athletic department has since released their own statement about suspending all of their athletics indefinitely.
Photo by Hunter Hall