Conference USA and All Conferences Cancel Basketball Tournaments
The coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on the sports world. Following decisions by the Big 10, AAC, and SEC to cancel their postseason basketball tournaments, Conference USA followed their lead and made the call shortly before 10 a.m. this morning. Since C-USA's announcement, the Big 12, ACC, and WAC also canceled their tournaments. In addition, C-USA suspended all spring sports competition until further notice.
"We are disappointed to have our season come to an end, but we support the decision of the conference office to cancel the remainder of the tournament," UTEP women's basketball head coach Kevin Baker said. "There are things that are bigger than basketball, and our number one concern is the health and well-being of everyone."
The Miners finished their season with a 16-14 record, including a 95-67 thrashing of Florida Atlantic yesterday in the opening round of the 2020 Conference USA Basketball Champions at The Star in Frisco. UTEP was scheduled to play 2-seed Old Dominion at 12:30pm today, but now the team will be returning to El Paso later this evening.
For New Mexico State's men's basketball team, they will also receive an automatic invite into the NCAA Tournament as the WAC's regular season champion. The current plan is for the NCAA to play its tournament next week without fans, but that decision could change as quickly as what happened today.
"Unfortunately we don’t get to compete for a tournament championship this weekend in Las Vegas," NMSU head coach Chris Jans said. "We respect the WAC decision makers and the experts they leaned on in making this decision. Obviously this is bigger than basketball."
The ripple effect has already been felt in other sports following the NBA's decision to postpone their season after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for the Coronavirus. Jazz teammate Donovan Mitchell tested positive this morning and Major League Soccer and the United Soccer League decided to postpone their season for the next 30 days. That means that El Paso Locomotive FC's home opener against LA Galaxy II Saturday night will not be played. ESPN's Jeff Passan tweeted that Major League Baseball owners will conduct a conference call shortly to discuss suspending the rest of Spring Training. There is also talk that they will be suspending operations until further notice. The NFL said it will not be delaying the start of the league year due to the virus.