The Michigan Wolverines and Rutgers Scarlet Knights were all set to tip-off Thursday’s session of the Big Ten Tournament in front of family and essential personnel when the conference decided to cancel the remainder of the tournament for public health reasons.
Here is the official statement from the B1G:
The Big Ten Conference announced today that it will be canceling the remainder of the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament, effective immediately.
The Big Ten Conference will use this time to work with the appropriate medical experts and institutional leadership to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The main priority of the Big Ten Conference continues to be the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, fans and media as we continue to monitor all developing and relevant information on the COVID-19 virus.
It is unfortunately the correct decision and all of the other major conferences have done the same thing on Thursday.
Commissioner Kevin Warren held a press conference an offered up some thoughts on how this decision was reached.
“I think the biggest thing is we made the right decision. I feel very good with our decision. I’m very confident with our decision. We have a fiduciary responsibility in the Big Ten to always show leadership especially in tough times. I think that’s something that we did today to do the right thing,” Warren said.
When asked if he would consider “suspending” instead of canceling he said: “I would say no. I think it’s important, we wanted to make it clear, that we’re canceling it because, again, first and foremost we need to make sure we protect the health and safety of you all, of our student-athletes, of our administrators, of our fans.”
The NCAA hasn’t made a decision yet on whether the NCAA Tournament will continue as planned, but multiple big name schools (Duke and Kansas in particular, although Kansas has clarified that they have not pulled out of the NCAA Tournament) have said they won’t be continuing with spring athletics activiy. The NABC has also called on the NCAA to stop all on and off-campus recruiting activity.
The health and wellbeing of coaches, current and prospective student-athletes and their families is of paramount importance. pic.twitter.com/8G7C7GmoVF— NABC (@NABC1927) March 12, 2020
Warren also had some advice for Mark Emmert and the NCAA as they weigh their decision. “The only thing that I would offer from an advice standpoint, whether it’s the NCAA or any other person in my seat, would be just make sure you put the student-athletes at the epicenter of your decision. If you do that, I think you’ll be led to the right decision.”
No. 1 seed Florida State was named champion of the ACC Tournament despite not playing a game and Warren was asked about how the B1G is handling that. “I don’t think I would recommend to our staff or crown a champion from the tournament because we didn’t get a chance to play the tournament,” Warren said, clearly afraid of naming Wisconsin the best team in the conference.
As of publishing this, the NCAA was no closer to making a decision but Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports says that a decision might not come until Friday.
UPDATE: Thursday 3/12/20 at 3:25 p.m. CT
The B1G also released this statement at 3:21 p.m. CT:
The Big Ten Conference announced today that in addition to the Men’s Basketball Tournament it will be canceling all conference and non-conference competitions through the end of the academic year, including spring sports that compete beyond the academic year, and participation in all NCAA tournaments and competitions. In addition, the Conference has announced a moratorium on all on- and off-campus recruiting activities for the foreseeable future.