Originally published March 12, 2020 at 11:06a.m., updated March 12, 2020 at 12:02p.m.

Big 12, other conferences cancel basketball tournaments

Ball boys shoot around on the Sprint Center floor in Kansas City. Mo., Thursday morning, March 12, 2020, in place of Texas and Texas Tech, the teams that should have been playing in the Big 12 basketball tournament at the time of this photograph. The tournament was canceled Thursday morning as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ball boys shoot around on the Sprint Center floor in Kansas City. Mo., Thursday morning, March 12, 2020, in place of Texas and Texas Tech, the teams that should have been playing in the Big 12 basketball tournament at the time of this photograph. The tournament was canceled Thursday morning as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.


The Big 12 and the other four Power Five conferences have canceled their basketball tournaments, putting the NCAA Tournament in doubt.

Within minutes of each other, The Big 12, Big Ten, SEC, ACC and Pac-12 — the five most high-profile conferences in college sports — announced that the remainder of their tournaments would not be played. All were preparing to play games in large arenas across the country, but with few people in the buildings.

“We have obviously canceled the tournament,” Big 12 Conference Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said during a late-morning press conference at the conference's tournament in Kansas City, Mo. “And we did it in consultation with a wide array of folks whose opinions we respect and who we wanted to coordinate with.”

Bowlsby said he had talked to NCAA President Mark Emmert and the commissioners of other conferences and had been in "almost constant contact" with officials at the nearby University of Kansas Medical Center and Kansas City public health officials. Kansas City, Mo., announced Thursday morning that it would be banning all public events with more than 1,000 attendees.

“Once (Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Quinton Lucas) declared a state of emergency, it hastened our discussions and we spent some time with our board of directors this morning who ultimately made the decision to cancel the tournament,” Bowlsby said.

The NCAA announced Wednesday that it planned to play its men's and women's tournament games that start next week with restricted access for the general public. The NCAA said only essential staff and limited family members would be allowed to attend the games.

Following the NCAA's lead, most college conferences announced that their basketball tournaments would be conducted with limited fan access the rest of the week. By Thursday, after the NBA suspended its season Wednesday night, most Division I conferences decided not to play at all.

But not all of them. The Big East started its second-round game between top-seeded Creighton and St. John's at Madison Square Garden as most of the sport was shutting down.

Also, canceling their tournaments were the American Athletic Conference in Fort Wort, Texas, and the Mid-American Conference in Cleveland at an arena scheduled to be the site of NCAA men's tournament games next week.

Bowlsby said he hadn't been part of discussions about the future of this year's NCAA Tournament.

“Hard to tell at this point whether there's going to be an NCAA Tournament to play in, or if it'll look different than the March Madness we’ve come to know," Bowlsby said. "I think there are probably lots of different options on the table right now that I haven’t been a party to discussions on. But we believe this is the right thing. I feel terrible for the seniors that are involved in this tournament.”

The Big 12 Conference also announced Thursday that it had suspended all other conference championships until April 15. In addition to the men's and women's basketball championships, the upcoming gymnastics and equestrian championships have been canceled. Future Big 12 championships this season will be evaluated by April 15, the conference said.

This story is developing and will be updated with more details.


Sean Doherty 1 year, 1 month ago

This is out of intellectual control and mob panic has set in. .00003% of the us population has acquired this disease. The only real risks are to people who are already susceptible to other illnesses. People have lost their GD mind. BTW, lets not mention the 50,000 Americans who die of the flu every year.

Jacob Bateson 1 year, 1 month ago

This is much more contagious than the flu and >10x more deadly. Just because you'll survive if you get it doesn't mean that your parents or neighbors will be so lucky.

Ryan Mullen 1 year, 1 month ago

And it's much more contagious because a vaccine has not been implemented yet. Once a vaccine is in place then it will be just a bad as the flu. Should we cancel all sporting events because of the flu? We don't see that ever happen, yet the flu still does kill people who are immuno compromised and the elderly. Should we stop driving because of the risk that someone will die? When does this stop now that Pandora's box has been opened? This is the slippery slope that we never see.

Jonathan Allison 1 year, 1 month ago

slippery slopes tend to autocorrect, and often overcorrect. This one will likely do the same.

Benjamin Shear 1 year, 1 month ago

We live in a culture where 'safetyism' is one of the highest virtues. Protect everyone from everything. There's an interesting book on topic called the Coddling of the American mind by Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff. The fruit of this culture is weak people that wilt at any difficulty or opposition. Soaring suicide rates and rampant mental health issues.

Shannon Gustafson 1 year, 1 month ago

A vaccine is at least a year away (best case). It has to be developed, tested, then IF it works, tested on a large enough pool of individuals to satisfy the FDA, then go through the FDA approval process, then be manufactured, then be distributed to drug companies, then to medical professionals. So are you suggesting we just let people die until a vaccine is available or what? It "might" be "like the flu" after we have a vaccine but since we DON'T have one and won't have one for a long time, we have to treat it differently unless we're ok with 6 or 7 figure death rates in the next year.

John Strayer 1 year, 1 month ago

Uhhhh...sorry...published death rates do not support this conclusion...especially if you consider the number of cases that are not yet tested.

Debbie Mangen 1 year, 1 month ago

Add the financial liability alone, to the schools and arenas, needs to be taken into account. As sue happy as this country is, the liability would be tremendous. I'd go to the games, sit by someone who didn't have a clue they were even contagious. Then I'd carry it home to my family. That I couldn't live with. We all need to step back, get tested whenever that happens, and choose the safe side. We will all live, missing our Jayhawks, and if they decide to end the season with the way the teams stand now, I can live with that.

M.E. Fisher 1 year, 1 month ago

When people are dying from this, it's incumbent upon the schools, conferences and the NCAA to limit its spread. Even if it means cancelling a precious sporting event.

Matthew Coleman 1 year, 1 month ago

This is an artifact of the social media echo chamber we live in. People die every day from all kinds of things. If a generalized "people are dying from this" is a reason to cancel, then we should cancel our lives altogether. Does no one have the spine to say, lets be reasonable about this?!

Jerry Walker 1 year, 1 month ago

All the politicians, school administrators, athletic commissioners are spineless weasels. They're all scared shiiitless that they'll be blamed. Their cowardly actions have little to do with public health and everything to do with their panic stricken stupidity.

Luke Smith 1 year, 1 month ago

Beyond ridiculous. And in a few months they will all pat themselves on the backs for avoiding certain death.

Jonathan Allison 1 year, 1 month ago

NCAA will be cancelled before selection sunday

Sean Doherty 1 year, 1 month ago

But again, based on what we know about this virus, we do not expect most people to develop serious illness. Reports out of China that looked at more than 70,000 COVID-19 patients found that about 80% of illness had — was mild and people recovered. 15 to 20% developed serious illness. Let’s talk about who those people are. So far it seems like it’s not children. Of the 70,000 cases, only about 2% were in people younger than 19. This seems to be a disease that affects adults. And most seriously older adults. Starting at age 60, there is an increasing risk of disease and the risk increases with age. The highest risk of serious illness and death is in people older than 80 years. People with serious underlying health conditions also are more likely to develop serious outcomes including death. The people who are at greatest risk are those older and who also have serious long-term health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, or lung disease.


Sean Doherty 1 year, 1 month ago

So what I'm saying here is it's the damn flu with a new name. Media, political, mob mentality induced irrational paranoia.

Jonathan Allison 1 year, 1 month ago

They just simply cannot put the student athletes and the general public at risk.

It's that easy. They can't do it partly because we don't fully understand what the risk is yet. This virus is spreading wildly and will continue to spread wildly for months. Yes, some people have fully recovered and only experienced mild symptoms. Most people who have been diagnosed still have the virus.

If this virus truly does spread at least twice as quickly as the flu and kill 10 times more than the flu. Then cancelling the events probably is the right thing to do for now.

Soon however, we need to get the world's economy back in gear. Unfortunately thousands of people have lost loved ones due to the spread of this virus, and many more thousands probably will before it stops spreading. But if we don't get the economy back in action, then a far greater loss of life worldwide will result from the economic losses and the shutdown of the world's supply chains.

Benjamin Shear 1 year, 1 month ago

I feel so sad for the players. The NCAA tournament is next. As said by Mr. Allison, I would wager they cancel the NCAA tournament by the end of the day. I feel like I just got robbed of something. If I feel this sad, I can only imagine how disappointed and depressed the players feel. Imagine not getting a chance to play when this is what you worked for all year, or literally for 4 years.

Chad Smith 1 year, 1 month ago

I hope we still get to see Kansas prove they are the best team in the country. Any thoughts on maybe delaying the tournament until May? Give this disease sometime to work through its cycle and then if the spread is limited, maybe give a real go with real fans again?

Jonathan Allison 1 year, 1 month ago

some reasons why I think that it wouldn't happen.

  1. the virus will likely still be spreading two months from now, though our major cities reasonably could have a good handle on it by then

  2. what do teams do between now and then? continue practicing, when they normally would be banned from doing so and coaches are normally hard at work on the recruiting trail?

  3. How many players would forego preparing for the NBA draft in order to play in the tournament?

All that said, nothing would shock me at this point.

David Robinett 1 year, 1 month ago

Can we still win the Helms Award, by virtue of our ranking and expected #1 overall seed? :)

Bryan Barton 1 year, 1 month ago

This is heartbreaking. I understand you have to err on the side of caution, but doesn’t this just feel like Pandora’s box has been opened? Especially since the NBA postponed their season last night? I would be stunned if the NCAA tournament doesn’t get canceled today. When I think about Dok missing the chance to potentially reunite with his Mom at the Final Four, it makes me cringe.

Brett McCabe 1 year, 1 month ago

I pray that Sean is not in charge of anything. A family. A business. A department. Or anything that requires common sense, a brain or a heart. Or a grandparent because he seems to be saying “okay boomer, it’s your time to die”.

Sean knows nothing. He has limited information and no reason to pretend that he does. But man is he rabid. It’s kind of like listening to a tigger talk about their final fours.

The middle schooler mentality of “yeah but more people were blown up in Syria yesterday” is just that - pre-adolescents thinking.

You friggin morons ought to stick with what you know best.....not a single thing.

Sae Thirtysix 1 year, 1 month ago

Unleash the McCoob (Boomer)!!

(narcissist) — Personality trait or behavior of someone who has no empathy for people (Sean), constantly berating (middle schooler's), blames others (you morons) for their problems, selfish and controlling, and really horrific to be around (100% of his posts). Trouble holding a job; due to problems working with authority figures. Have relationship problems for the obvious reasons, but believe it's all another person's fault. 🤦🏻‍♂️

Great job on the "Sean post" - dipstick.

Armen Kurdian 1 year, 1 month ago

This is awful....this is just freakin' awful....

greg robinson 1 year, 1 month ago

So if they cancel the NCAA Tournament are we national champs?! Not sure there’s a big enough asterisk for that 🤔.

Daniel Kennamore 1 year, 1 month ago

Disappointing but it's the correct call. Containment is already impossible at this point but hopefully these cancellations can help flatten the curve.

Joey Meyer 1 year, 1 month ago

2020 National Champions!!!!!

If the NCAA Tournament is called, we are the unanimous #1 voted team in the country.

I see no reason why we couldn't claim a national title just like the 1922, 1923 championships.

Blake Brown 1 year, 1 month ago

I understand the most significant symptom of the virus is lack of good judgement.

James Mathews 1 year, 1 month ago

Better to play on the side of caution rather than worrying about sports. “Whiners going to whine” “deniers Going to deny“ is that a word? It surprises me, but after 3 years of current state of affairs nothing surprises me..... denial is a river and it runs through the middle of this country! Foolish.

RJ King 1 year, 1 month ago

Sorry, but many of these angry comments sound like whiney babies amidst a much greater problem. The economic fallout from this will be intense and long-term.

I work in sports television production. We are a freelance community of camera operators, graphics, audio and video technicians, statisticians, stage managers, tape/replay operators, technical directors, utilities and production assistants. Satellite and production truck companies provide our "offices."

At the venues, there are ushers, catering, concession workers, security personnel, custodial & maintenance workers. All of us depend on a certain number of events per month to make ends meet. March thru May is the busiest season - with NBA, NHL, MLS, NCAA and MLB all in play. These three months can equal at least half a year's income.

The fallout from the travel, hospitality, and entertainment industries will be epic. Restaurants and what's left of retail will suffer tremendously. Many small business owners and employees just don't have the resources to cover 3 or 4 months loss of revenue or income.

So find a good book, get out and hike, plant something, learn to cook, do your taxes, clean your home, adopt a pet, or binge-watch netflix. Because if you can, you should count your blessings.

Bryce Landon 1 year, 1 month ago

Bob Bowlsby could not have handled this any worse. Let the tournament go on! Don't suddenly decide to cancel it after games have already been played! Pick a course of action and stick to it, for God's sake! Better yet, stop punishing the overwhelming majority of us who are healthy just because there's a .0000001% chance someone might get sick!

Barry Weiss 1 year, 1 month ago

well, this is a bummer, but life is more important than sports. It is a shame this was the year we had a legit shot to win it all. I like the idea that they give the NC to the current number 1 team. I don't give a flip about any damn asterisks. We kicked A all year and deserve it!

Armen Kurdian 1 year, 1 month ago

It's done. Everything is cancelled. It's bone-crushing. Dok will not get his chance to loft a trophy over his head. Sports is over for a long time.

David Rodenbaugh 1 year, 1 month ago

Given no tourneys, from a statistical and historical perspective, I think the Jayhawks should be declared National Champions by virtue of their #1 ranking at the end of the regular season. Dok will go in the record book for highest career FG percentage too. What a treat it was this year to witness all those slams by Dok, the acrobatic drives by Dot, and the steals by Marcus. Ended all too soon.

Barry Weiss 1 year, 1 month ago

totally agree. there is simply no good reason to punt the whole year, just look to the body of work each team did and the ranking done as a secondary method to crown the champion. In this case, it is the Kansas Jayhawks.

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