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Friday June 18th, 2021 2:19AM

Power 5 leagues scrap tournaments, putting NCAAs in doubt

By Ralph D. Russo
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The Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern Conference all canceled their basketball tournaments Thursday because of concerns about coronavirus, putting the playing of the NCAA Tournament in doubt.

Georgia was slated to play Florida in the second round of the SEC Tournament at 3 p.m. on Thursday in Nashville, Tenn.

Within minutes of each other, 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.

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.

Below is the statement from the SEC:

Based on the latest developments and the continued spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Southeastern Conference today announced the cancellation of the remainder of the 2020 Men's Basketball Tournament in Nashville.

"We understand that this decision will be disappointing to our student-athletes and coaches who have been preparing all season to compete in this event as well as viewers at home," said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. "While this was not an easy decision, the health and well-being of our entire SEC community is of paramount importance."

The SEC's regular season champion, the University of Kentucky, will be awarded the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

The SEC will provide additional updates on other scheduled SEC championship events as they become available. The SEC reminds everyone to be attentive to everyday preventive actions identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov).

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