By Jeff Uveino
BROOKLYN, NY — The remainder of the Atlantic 10 men’s basketball tournament was canceled on Thursday minutes before the tournament’s first game of the day was scheduled to start at Barclays Center.
No. 8 Massachusetts and No. 9 VCU were set for a noon tip-off to start the day’s action, until it was announced at 11:59 a.m. that the tournament would not be played due to fears over the Coronavirus.
“It was a very difficult decision, and you can probably hear that in my voice,” A-10 commissioner Bernadette McGlade said while calling in to the league press conference on Thursday. “The precautionary decision making done to protect our student athletes, family members and the public is something that I think everyone in the country is doing right now.”
The conference had announced on Wednesday night that the tournament would be played without fans in attendance. McGlade said that at that point, she knew that canceling the tournament was a possibility, but hoped that it would not be necessary.
“You always hate to pull people off the court, but the right decision was made, even in the last hour,” said Thorr Bjorn, athletic director at Rhode Island and the chair of the A-10 athletic directors. “This was a preventative decision, not a reactionary one.”
The news came as NCAA conferences around the nation announced that they would not hold their respective tournaments.
“Two minutes left in the warmup, you’re on the court and locked in, and then no game,” VCU coach Mike Rhodes said. “It’s surreal. The reality of it is, you can’t win every game, but your responsibility as a coach is to keep your players healthy and safe.”
Rhodes said that the decision was especially tough to swallow for his senior players.
“There weren’t any dry eyes in our locker room,” Rhodes said. “When our seniors sat down and realized they wouldn’t be putting on a uniform again, that was tough.”
McGlade, who had called in to from an NCAA Selection Committee meeting, said that she is uncertain whether the NCAA tournament will be the next event to be impacted.
“All of the leadership executives within the NCAA and our committee are very attentive and attuned to everything that’s going on, and looking at all of the impactful information that’s coming on as we are charged with taking care of our responsibilities.”