NCAA announces cancellation of March Madness, ending men’s and women’s basketball seasons

Maryland men's basketball coach Mark Turgeon during his team's 52-48 loss to Seton Hall on Dec. 19, 2019 in Newark, New Jersey. (Julia Nikhinson/The Diamondback)

INDIANAPOLIS — March Madness is the latest sporting event to be canceled in the wake of concern over the potential spread of the new coronavirus, the NCAA announced Thursday.

There has been swift action taken to cancel or postpone events, including the cancellation of a bevy of conference tournaments — such as the Big Ten, Big 12 and ACC, among others — and the suspension of the NBA, MLS, NHL and MLB seasons.

Thursday’s announcement from the NCAA also included all other remaining winter and spring collegiate championships.

“The decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure 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 decisions by other entities,” the NCAA said in a statement.

The other entities that preceded the NCAA’s decision included the ACC conference, which announced it would suspend athletic events, and the Big Ten, among a host of other conferences such as the Ivy League and Patriot League.

Duke, a projected top seed in the NCAA tournament, individually announced that it would not participate in the tournament if it were to continue.

It’s important to note the verbiage in the announcement. “Cancels” indicates no intention to play these events at a later date, effectively ending the college basketball season.

College basketball’s lasting images of the 2020 season will be conference tournament games being nixed just minutes before games were set to begin, as was the case in the Big Ten, or a game stopped at halftime of the Big East tournament.

For the seniors and players with intentions to declare for the NBA or WNBA, their seasons end without a chance to improve their professional prospects or compete for championships.

For the University of Maryland, the men’s and women’s seasons ended with celebrations.

The men’s team cut the nets Sunday in front of fans that flooded the Xfinity Center court after the team clinched a share of the Big Ten’s regular-season championship. Hours later, the women’s team celebrated its conference tournament championship in Indianapolis, cutting the net and posing for photos.

[Read more: Big Ten cancels all spring sports due to coronavirus]

“We gotta celebrate this and get right back to work tomorrow,” Terps men’s basketball senior guard Anthony Cowan said. “People in the locker room understand that. We’ve got a lot more work to do.”

Instead, Cowan’s career, and the seasons of men’s and women’s basketball programs across the country, end during the most highly anticipated month of the college basketball slate.

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