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NIU

MAC cancels men's and women's conference basketball tournaments, winter and spring championships

NIU Noah McCarty (11) plays some defense during the first half of game March 6th while playing against Ball State.
NIU Noah McCarty (11) plays some defense during the first half of game March 6th while playing against Ball State.

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Not only did the MAC announce on Thursday that the men's and women's basketball conference tournaments were canceled, the league announced that they will not be holding spring sports either.

NIU athletic director Sean Frazier said he is in full support of the steps taken by the MAC.

"At this point, the safety and health of our student-athletes, fans and community takes precedence over everything," Frazier said. "We know that these unprecedented measures were necessary based on prioritizing the safety and security of all the participants and fans involved. We're heartbroken for all of our student-athletes, especially our seniors, that their seasons had to end in this way."

NIU teams currently on the road for spring break will return as soon as possible.

After rolling out various cancelations throughout the day, the MAC listed all of their cancellations Thursday afternoon – the MAC Women's Gymnastics championship, the regular season and championship competition for all sports for the remainder of the school year, formal and organized practices until further notice, and off-campus recruiting and official and unofficial visits.

“It is incredibly disappointing in terms of the kids (not) having the chance to compete further," MAC Commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher said.

The NCAA also announced Thursday that all winter and spring seasons have been canceled.

"We've been in communication for well over a week on different actions people were taking," Steinbrecher said. "Clearly we stepped out early on some procedures we were implementing for our tournament and then today – last night and then today unfolded. We're taking temperatures of what was going on around us as well, but at the end of the day it's a decision we have to make."

Len Komoroski, CEO of the Cleveland Cavaliers, also answered questions at the MAC press conference, including answering questions about NBA games at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Two players for the Utah Jazz, who played at the arena on March 2, have since tested positive for COVID-19, Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell.

"We go through an extensive sanitation process after every event," Komoroski said. "There were actually five events that occurred since the Jazz were in town prior to the MAC conference coming here as well, so that process has been repeated continually throughout that, not to mention when the usage is actually taking place by the MAC.

"Beyond that as well, the timeline obviously with the affected player with the Jazz, from what we're understanding based on incubation period and actually where symptoms appear and given the length of time from when the Jazz were in town, which was March 2, until when last night occurred, would suggest that the risk was very low that the affected player actually had contracted it and had that while he was in Cleveland."

The women's tournament had already completed its quarterfinal round Wednesday before Thursday morning's announcement.

Steinbrecher said that personnel working at the tournaments would be compensated as if they had worked the entirety of the event.

In addition, the IESA State Wrestling Championships scheduled for the NIU Convocation Center this weekend have been cancelled. All other events, including the IHSA 3A/4A Super-Sectionals will be managed based on recommendations of local and state health agencies as well as university policies.     

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