Big 12 commissioner Bowlsby cancels tourneys; WVU offers support

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Big 12 has canceled all league championship competitions until April 15, commissioner Bob Bowlsby announced Thursday morning.

The decision was made roughly 30 minutes before Texas Tech and Texas were scheduled to tip off the first of four tournament games scheduled for Thursday.

That decision sends West Virginia’s men’s and women’s basketball teams home from Kansas City without having played a single game in this year’s tournament. It also wipes out the conference gymnastics championship, which was to be held at WVU Coliseum on March 21.

“The situation is fluid and the safety of all involved has to be the priority,” said WVU athletic director Shane Lyons. “Yesterday, the conference made a decision based on the best information available at that time. Today, the Big 12 acted swiftly and appropriately to further ensure that we do our part in containing COVID-19.

“While everyone is disappointed, based on the information provided by health care officials, this decision is the right call.”

Bowlsby reached the decision after meeting with all 10 of the Big 12’s athletic directors as well as speaking via teleconference with the commissioners of the ACC, SEC, Big Ten and Pac-12.

“I think it was just a collective feeling of sadness,” Bowlsby said. “Everyone gets jazzed up for this tournament. It’s a great sporting event.”

Bowlsby is especially sympathetic to seniors who will never have another chance to play with their teammates.

“Unfortunately, it could be the last basketball they have a chance to play as college kids. I feel terrible for the players,” Bowlsby said. “I received no feedback from players or coaches that they didn’t want to play or coach, but in the interest of heeding the advice we were hearing and being conservative with everybody’s best health, cancelation was the right outcome for our men’s and women’s tournaments.”

Major sporting events across the country continue to be canceled as coronavirus COVID-19 spreads through the United States.

Bowlsby noted that it is a precautionary measure.

“I’m not aware that there have been any positive tests with staff, coaches or players,” Bowlsby said. “I’m not aware that anybody’s [even] been tested.”

No announcement has yet come from the NCAA regarding postponement or cancelation of the NCAA tournament, which is scheduled to begin next week.

WVU men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins

“Obviously, I’m disappointed for our team, our staff and all of Mountaineer Nation, particularly in light as to how our team responded so well in recent games and practices after a tough stretch of the season. However, this is a very serious matter globally and the health and safety of all involved is the priority.”

WVU women’s basketball coach Mike Carey

“We’re very disappointed, but we understand why the tournament was called off. I feel bad for the seniors that didn’t have an opportunity to play in this tournament or even for the young underclassmen. The Big 12 is doing everything they can to ensure safety for everybody, and we understand why this is occurring. But I feel bad, especially, for the seniors on the team.”

WVU senior Logan Routt

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