UPDATE: The SEC announced on Thursday (March 12) the remainder of the league tournament has been canceled amid concerns related to the coronavirus outbreak.
NASHVILLE — Whatever is left of the Georgia basketball season will take place with only limited family members in attendance as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
“We’ll adjust, it will be the same for the other team,” UGA coach Tom Crean said. “In this world, that’s the new normal. It’s the new normal that has come quickly.
“I cannot begin to describe what’s going on in this world with this coronavirus … the people making these decisions, they know what they’re doing.”
At the time of this publication, there have been 938 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. with 29 related deaths across 39 jurisdictions including the District of Columbia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Southeastern Conference made the announcement on Wednesday night during the Bulldogs’ 81-63 opening round win over Ole Miss at the SEC basketball tournament.
From SEC commissioner Greg Sankey:
“In light of recent developments beyond our control related to the spread of the coronavirus, including a recommendation from the NCAA COVID-19 Advisory Panel, and after consultation with our member universities, we have made the difficult decision to hold the 2020 SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament in Nashville without spectators beginning with games of Thursday, March 12. Effective immediately, the policy will also apply to other SEC Championship events and on-campus regular season games scheduled through at least the end of March.
“After conferring with local and national health authorities, we remain confident in our ability to safeguard the health and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and other staff who will be participating as well as the limited number of family members and media who will be in attendance at the tournament.
“We regret the inconvenience and disappointment this decision has caused our fans, especially those who have already traveled to Nashville for the tournament.”
As previously announced, the SEC has implemented the following enhanced health measures for the 2020 SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament:
- Use of hospital grade disinfectant to sanitize locker rooms before teams arrive and immediately upon departure;
- Sanitization of game balls with hospital grade disinfectant after each practice and game;
- Sanitization of team benches plus band and cheerleader seating areas following each game;
- Hand sanitizers, disinfectant wipes and Lysol spray in team locker rooms;
- Hand sanitizers at scorer’s table, in officials’ locker rooms, operations offices and media areas.
The ACC, Big 12 and Big Ten basketball tournaments announced earlier Wednesday they would proceed without fans starting Thursday.
The Big 12 announced it would allow teams 125 tickets on a game-by-game basis at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.
The Big Ten tournament, held in Indianapolis, will allow coaches, event staff and student athletes along with family members of the teams.
Those league’s decisions came on the heels of the NCAA tournament decision to bar all but family and essential personnel.
The same restrictions will be in effect for the NIT tournament.
Late Wednesday night, the NBA announced it was suspending play.
Sankey was asked about the decision and said, “This is a fluid situation, and we’re mindful of the fluidity.”
Crean said he’ll continue to educate his team on the appropriate protocol to deal with the outbreak.
“It’s like coaching, you have to keep giving them reminders, the cleanliness, the hand wipes,” Crean said. “Now, we try to intensify it more.
“It’s an educational process, (and) you give them every bit of working knowledge you can,” he said. “The level of seriousness of this, you have to have a maturity level to listen to everything that’s said.
“It’s the new normal now, and we have to be able to deal with it.”
The SEC announced its refund policy for the league basketball tournament and campus events:
For the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament, automatic refunds of ticket purchases will be made to fans who are the original purchaser of the tickets from SEC Office or an SEC university, or a verified purchaser on the SEC Ticket Exchange powered by Ticketmaster. For regular season events, each campus will determine refund policies and procedures.