The Southland Conference announced Saturday that all spring sports have been canceled amid nationwide concerns surrounding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) that was officially declared a pandemic.
This surprising decision came less than 48 hours after the conference suspended spring competitions through March 30, but now all spring competition and championships have been officially canceled.
The list of impacted sports is extensive: baseball, softball, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s track and field, beach volleyball and the Southland Bowling League Championship that was scheduled for March 19-22. In addition, SLC athletic departments have agreed to suspend all team activities, organized or voluntary, through March 30.
The NCAA also announced its cancellation of all remaining winter and spring championships, saying “This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to the spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities.”
COVID-19 is having an avalanche-like effect on the United States including travel bans, rules against large group gatherings, the closure of numerous schools and universities and major impacts on professional and collegiate sports.
The National Basketball Association announced an indefinite suspension of its season, and the National Hockey League followed suit and suspended its season until “it is appropriate and prudent” to resume play. Major League Baseball canceled all spring training games and will move back the start of its regular season at least two weeks.
At the collegiate level, the Southland Conference followed in the footsteps of many other conferences and announced the cancellation of its postseason basketball tournament on March 12 around noon after delaying the tip-off of the University of New Orleans Privateers and Southeastern Louisiana University Lions women’s basketball game.
There was visible emotion from the players on the court when the announcement came over the PA system at the Leonard E. Merrell Center in Katy, especially from the seniors who realized they would be unable to compete in the playoffs in (potentially) their last year of collegiate basketball.
Hours later the NCAA officially canceled the 2020 March Madness tournament, an unprecedented event that has never before occurred since the tournament’s inception in 1939. Fans across the country have expressed a wide range of emotions on social media following the surplus of reports that broke this week.
While many fans are frustrated, canceling collegiate champions (especially March Madness) is undoubtedly a decision the NCAA did not make lightly. In a recent Yahoo article, Andrew Lisa called March Madness the NCAA’s “bread and butter,” pulling in $933 million in ad revenue alone last season.
With a decision of this magnitude, a lot of questions begin to rise to the surface, and the NCAA certainly has issues to address. One of the major dilemmas will be how to handle the future eligibility of seniors who are now missing their final season.
According to an update from the Division I Council Coordination Committee, “Council leadership agreed that eligibility relief is appropriate for all Division 1 student-athletes who participated in spring sports. Details of eligibility relief will be finalized at a later time.”
The Houstonian will continue to keep you updated as more information becomes available and decisions unfold. Follow @HoustonianSport on Twitter for the most up-to-date coverage and breaking news about COVID-19’s ongoing impact on the SLC and collegiate sports.