FAYETTEVILLE — The SEC on Thursday announced it’s cancelling the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament that was scheduled to continue Thursday through Sunday’s championship game at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee, and also announced that all SEC competition in all sports other than postseason national championship competition will be suspended until March 30 to reduce risk of the worldwide spreading coronavirus.
For now, Friday and Saturday’s NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships with both the Arkansas Razorbacks men’s and women’s teams competing in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments starting next week remain as scheduled.
Thursday morning’s decision regarding the SEC Tournament announced by SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey followed shortly thereafter with the announcement that all competition of SEC teams would be suspended at least until March 30.
Wednesday, before the Arkansas Razorbacks won their late night SEC Tournament first-round game, 86-73 over Vanderbilt, Sankey announced the remaining SEC Tournament games would not allow fans other than the schools’ personnel and a limited number of family and friends of the participants.
Thursday, it was announced cancelling the tournament entirely which obviously sends the Razorbacks home rather than playing Thursday night’s second round game with South Carolina.
“We understand that this decision will be disappointing to our student-athletes and coaches who have been preparing all season to compete in this event as well as viewers at home,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said Thursday. “While this was not an easy decision, the health and well-being of our entire SEC community is of paramount importance.”
Later, at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, the SEC e-mailed: “Based on the latest developments and the continued spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Southeastern Conference today announced the suspension of regular season competition for teams in all sports on SEC campuses, as well SEC championship events, until March 30. This does not apply to teams and individuals in NCAA competition, at this time. The SEC reminds everyone to be attentive to everyday preventive actions identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
Regular season SEC men’s champion Kentucky will be awarded the NCAA Tournament automatic bid that comes with winning the SEC Tournament.
Coach Eric Musselman’s Razorbacks, 20-12, for now can only wait until Sunday’s NCAA Tournament selection show to see if they are in the 68-team NCAA Tournament or, more likely the 32-team National Invitational Tournament, if indeed those tournaments get played.
Regular season SEC women’s basketball champion South Carolina won last week’s SEC Women’s Tournament in Greenville, South Carolina, and receives the SEC’s automatic bid.
After winning SEC Tournament games over Auburn and Texas A&M before losing to nationally No. 1 South Carolina, coach Mike Neighbors, 24-8, SEC tied for third-place (10-6) Razorbacks women, ranked 24th and 25th in the national AP and Coaches polls, are expected to receive a NCAA Tournament at large bid Monday presuming the tournament is played.