Big West, MAC bar fans from conference tournaments due to coronavirus concerns

On the same day the Ivy League announced that it was canceling its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, two other college conferences have barred fans from theirs.

The Big West and the MAC announced Tuesday afternoon that this week’s championship tournaments will be played without spectators, citing coronavirus concerns.

The Big West men’s tournament will go on as planned at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California from Thursday through Saturday.

‘Prudent way to help slow the spread’

“The Big West Board of Directors ... strongly feel that this is a prudent way to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus while being sensitive to our student-athletes who have pointed towards playing in the tournament all season,” Big West Commissioner Dennis Farrell wrote in a statement. ... “I'm sorry for the inconvenience this will cause our fans, but I do want to stress that all games will be televised on the ESPN family of networks.”

The acknowledgement of student-athlete wishes comes after players on Ivy League teams started a petition to reinstate the tournaments, criticizing school presidents for their “baffling and alarming” “hypocrisy.”

The Big West tournament will be played without fans. (Photo by Scott Varley/Torrance Daily Breeze via Getty Images)

MAC follows Ohio gov’s recommendation

The MAC issued a statement similar to the Big West’s, noting that credentialed media, family members and official team party members will be allowed. But not the general public.

The MAC tournament will be held in Cleveland at the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. The decision arrived hours after Ohio Governor Mike DeWine recommended that spectators be barred from all indoor sporting events.

“The safety of all is our greatest concern,” MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher wrote. “Since January, I have stated that any decision would follow the advice of state governmental officials and medical professionals. Following the feedback we received today we have taken this action which is in alignment with Governor DeWine.”

The MAC tournament will take place from Wednesday through Saturday. Organizers of both tournaments are offering full refunds to those who purchased tickets.

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