MAC cancels conference tournament due to coronavirus

The MAC announced via this press release that it was canceling the remainder of the tournament.

The Mid-American Conference canceled its tournament in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). The decision comes prior to the scheduled quarterfinal game between Akron and Ohio at 12 p.m on Thursday. 

“We have been meeting all morning with our directors of athletics, with our presidents, talking about what is the appropriate path forward,” MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said in a press conference. “We’ve also been paying attention to what’s been going on around us. Both in the world in large and the sports world, and as you’ve started to see this morning, you’ve seen a number of conferences have made the decision to cancel. We have come to the same conclusion, and we will be canceling our event.”

The announcement comes on the heels of the NBA announcing Wednesday night it would be suspending all play after the Utah Jazz players Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell both tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. The MAC Tournament was being played at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, a venue the Utah Jazz had played at on March 2. 

“I had discussions this morning with the director of the Cleveland Board of Health, as well as the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, and they both were confident with the fact that given the cleaning regime and the distance between when the Utah players were in the facility that that shouldn’t pose a point of view,” Steinbrecher said. “We had made the decision that if we would have moved forward, we were going to close down that locker room and not utilize it anymore. Even though we didn’t believe there was a risk posed by that.”

The MAC was one of numerous conferences on Thursday to cancel its conference tournament due to the coronavirus. The Big 10, SEC, Big 12, ACC and AAC all canceled its tournaments Thursday.

“We’ve been in communication for well over a week on different actions people were taking,” Steinbrecher said. “Clearly, we stepped out early on to some procedures we were implementing for our tournament.

“It is incredibly disappoint in terms of the kids having a chance to compete further because I know this is a pinnacle event, and it’s something they look forward to,” Steinbrecher said. “But simply from a public health standpoint, this seems the appropriate course of action.”

The Ivy League was the first conference to cancel its tournament on Tuesday. The conference also canceled all spring sports.

“We have not (made a determination on spring sports),” Steinbrecher said. “We had a brief discussion today, but most of our discussions were about basketball. Those discussions will continue. I hope we come to some conclusions on (spring sports) within the next couple of days.

“Today unfolded and we were taking temperatures of what was going on around us as well, but at the end of the day, it’s a decision that we have to make.”

Thursday afternoon the NCAA decided to cancel all winter and spring championships, per the press release above. The MAC followed this announcement with the following press release:

The announcement states the MAC will cancel all sports for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year. The announcement also includes the suspension of formal, organized practices and off-campus recruiting activities, including campus visits until further notice.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available. 

Contact Ian Kreider at [email protected].