COLLEGE STATION — Sayonara Nashville. The SEC has played its final note in the Music City.
With the growing concern surrounding the spread of COVID-19, the Southeastern Conference announced Thursday morning that their annual tournament would be canceled for the 2020 season. The announcement comes a day after the SEC announced that the tournament would be played without fans.
Earlier this week, the SEC stated that regular-season contests in all sports on the league's campuses, plus championship events, will also be held without fans from March 12 through at least March 30, when the league said it would re-evaluate conditions.
The SEC is now one of three major conferences that will cancel their tournament this season, following the likes of Big Ten, Big 12 and Atlantic Coast Conferences. All four conferences announced earlier this week that due to the high spread of the coronavirus, games would only feature "student-athletes, coaches, event staff, essential team and Conference staff." Other included would be TV network partners, credentialed media, and immediate family members of the participating teams.
Although not at the same measure, the Ivy League announced earlier this week that all spring sporting events and practices would be canceled through the end of the academic year. Winter sporting teams that are still in competition would make individual decisions on whether or not they wanted to continue postseason play.
As it stands right now, there is no word on if the virus will affect the impending NCAA tournament. The 68-team process was expected to be announced Sunday, with games beginning Tuesday and Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio. The Final Four is scheduled to take place April 4 and 6 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga.
"While I understand how disappointing this is for all fans of our sports, my decision is based on the current understanding of how COVID-19 is progressing in the United States," NCAA President Mark Emmert said in the statement. "This decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and, most importantly, our student-athletes."
"We recognize the opportunity to compete in an NCAA national championship is an experience of a lifetime for the students and their families," he added. "Today, we will move forward and conduct championships consistent with the current information and will continue to monitor and make adjustments as needed."
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Emmert's statement came after the NCAA's COVID-19 Advisory Panel released a report that recommended that sporting events "take place with only essential personnel."
"This protects our players, employees, and fans," the advisory panel said in a statement.
COVID-19, better known to the public as the "coronavirus," includes viruses that cause common colds and others that result in more severe illnesses, such as SARS and MERS. Symptoms include fever, coughing, wheezing and could bring the on-spread of pneumonia.
Three people in the greater Houston area (just outside of College Station), have tested positive for the virus. Earlier this week, the Houston Rodeo elected to close its doors to the public to help stop the rise of the spreading the what is now considered "dangerous disease."
The NBA also suspended play for the remainder of the regular season until further notice.
The school announced Wednesday that classes would be put on hiatus until further notice as students return from spring break. Classes were expected to begin on March 16, with spring practice for football expected to return on March 23.
This upcoming weekend, the Aggies were expected to travel to Auburn, Ala. for baseball against the Tigers and remain at home in softball with a date scheduled between Tennessee. The Aggies Men's Basketball team was expected to begin play Thursday evening against the Missouri Tigers.
Texas A&M finished with a 16-14 regular-season record, going 10-8 in conference play under the first season of Buzz Williams.