The Western Athletic Conference on Thursday canceled its men’s and women’s conference basketball tournaments at Orleans Arena in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
“What’s happened is unprecedented,” WAC commissioner Jeff Hurd said. “It’s uncharted waters for everybody. … There really wasn’t another decision to make. Our decision to make this morning was based on what’s best for the student athletes both short term and long term.”
The women’s tournament began Wednesday, and the men’s tournament was to begin Thursday, with semifinal play Friday and championship play Saturday. The first three games were played Wednesday without a hitch, but the final game between Cal State-Bakersfield and Grand Canyon was postponed because of what the conference called a “medical situation” involving a player on one of the teams.
Hurd confirmed Thursday that the player does not have coronavirus and tested negative for any respiratory disease.
“That certainly was a relief, there’s no question about that,” said Hurd, noting he became aware of the medical issue during the third game Wednesday.
Along with canceling its basketball tournaments, the WAC also is suspending its spring athletic programs. The NCAA announced Thursday that its remaining winter and spring championships are canceled as well.
The conference stands to lose revenue from the cancellations, but Hurd did not speculate about the extent of the losses. He said the WAC will examine refunding tickets and deals with different sponsors that might be affected, but noted that losing revenue “wasn’t even a concern” for the conference at this point.
“We’re in a situation today, none of us know the extent of the danger that’s out there. It’s not something you can see,” Hurd said. “If we’re going to make a mistake, we’re going to make it on the side of caution. We may be accused of ultra caution. If that’s the case, then so be it. I think we made the right decision. I think we made the only decision available that made sense.
“We know what’s going on nationwide. We know what’s going on worldwide. This isn’t something that’s confined to Las Vegas or the WAC tournament. It’s going on coast to coast and country to country.”