In a move that was looking inevitable as word of major conference basketball tournament cancellations flowed in throughout the week, the NCAA has canceled all remaining championship events for the school year, it announced Thursday.
‘The decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decision by other entities.”
— NCAA (@NCAA) March 12, 2020
The 2020 Division I NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships were scheduled to begin March 18 for women and March 25 for men; Division II was set to start on the 18th as well. Division II’s event began Wednesday, March 11, and ended with the announcement on Thursday.
Wednesday, the NCAA announced that it would bar spectators – excluding athletes’ families – from championship events. The progression to canceling the events entirely mirrors the response of the National Basketball Association, which briefly just barred fans from attending games in-person before suspending the season after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert test positive for COVID-19 Wednesday night.
After the NBA’s unprecedented announcement, Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League followed suit. While conference championship season in swimming concluded last week, major basketball tournaments were ongoing – but the Ivy League pulled the plug on its tournament and all spring athletics Wednesday, with conferences including the Pac-12, Big East and ACC doing the same Thursday.
It was generally the case that it was up to individual schools to decide whether they would allow athletes to travel for winter sports postseason events, but the ACC issued a blanket ban for its athletes earlier on Thursday.
The announcement will surely conjure debate as to how student-athletes’ eligibility will be affected, which remains to be seen.
Update: The CSCAA’s National Invitational Championship (NIC) meet has just confirmed that it will swim tonight’s finals session, then end the meet.