CLEVELAND – The Mid-American Conference announced on Thursday afternoon that it is cancelling both the 2020 Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournament due to the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak. It marks the first time in 40 years of MAC tournament play that there will be no MAC tourney champion.
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The final decision was made hours before the men’s first quarterfinal game between top-seeded Akron and eighth seeded Ohio University at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse.
“As you had seen, a number of conferences made a decision to cancel (their) event, we (the MAC) have come to the same conclusion.” Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said in a special press conference to announce the stoppage.
“We have been meeting all morning with our directors of athletics, as well as our presidents -- talking about the path forward, as well as the events going on around us both in and out of the sports world.”
As Thursday unfolded, other conferences -- including the Big Ten, Southeastern, and American Athletic -- decided to cancel their postseason tournaments.
Opening round games for both tourneys were played earlier in the week. Subsequently, the MAC Women’s Tournament got in its quarterfinal games on Wednesday, with Toledo, Eastern Michigan, Kent State, and Ohio emerging victorious.
A big step toward cancellation came on Tuesday when Ohio Governor Mike DeWine recommended all indoor events in the state be played however without any spectators.
The professional game then was suspended after two Utah Jazz players --Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchel -- face contracted the COVID-19 virus. The Jazz were in Cleveland to play the Cavaliers on March 2nd.
Cavaliers CEO Len Komorowski said, “We go through an extensive sanitation process after every event. There were actually five events that occurred since the Jazz were in town prior to the MAC conference coming here, as well, so that process has been repeated continually throughout that, not to mention when the usage is actually taking place by the MAC.”
Regarding the upcoming NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament scheduled for the facility next weekend, March 20-22, Steinbrecher said that is the decision of the NCAA.
“We’re disappointed on a lot of levels, obviously first and foremost for the
Student athletes and our fans. (We’re) disappointed about the fact this event has been a pretty significant economic driver within this community and acknowledge that. … Let’s face it, we’re going through an event right now that’s going to cause interesting issues with regards to that. I won’t claim to know what we’re going to do, but acknowledge that there’s a lot of people hurting.”