Virus concerns postpone basketball tournaments

Michael Smith

A number of school events were postponed or canceled on Thursday amid concerns of the novel coronavirus rapidly spreading. Governing bodies for high school and college athletics announced that basketball tournaments, some already underway, will not continue as scheduled.

The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association announced all sponsored events scheduled for this weekend have been postponed, including sport and music competitions. The NJCAA said upcoming Division I and Division II basketball tournaments have also been postponed, and ongoing Division III tournaments will proceed on an expedited schedule that will conclude on Friday.

The NCAA on Thursday also announced that March Madness tournaments would be postponed due to concerns over the virus, a decision that put the brakes on Thursday match-ups for both OU and OSU.

Earlier on Thursday, the Big 12 Conference announced that all regular-season competitions, recruiting, and out-of-season practices will be suspended until March 29. Big 12 Conference championships through April 15 have been canceled, according to a statement.

High school and college basketball tournaments are among the latest events that have been impacted by postponements and cancellations. The NBA announced on Wednesday that the remainder of the season has been suspected, and the NHL, MLB and MLS made similar announcements on Thursday.

The OSSAA decision put an abrupt halt on the Ardmore Lady Tigers’ championship run that was supposed to begin on Thursday afternoon against Will Rogers High School. The NJCAA decision has stopped the Murray State College women’s basketball team from their first round matchup against Florida SouthWestern State, which was scheduled to begin next Tuesday.

“We have two main objectives in this situation - first and foremost is to protect the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, college personnel, and fans,” said NJCAA President Dr. Christopher Parker in a Thursday statement. “Second is to make sure our student-athletes receive the national championship experience that they have worked so hard for."

According to OSSAA Executive Director David Jackson, the decision to postpone high school basketball tournaments may have stemmed from a confirmed case of COVID-19 for Utah Jazz player Donovan Mitchell, who visited several students at Del City High School on Wednesday.

“When it was discovered that Donovan Mitchell tested positive, we immediately were in contact with Del City officials as well as state health officials to get the exact information regarding that,” Jackson said during a Thursday press conference.

OSSAA board President Cecilia Robinson-Woods said no decision has been made when high school basketball tournaments will be rescheduled. “There’s talk of some schools, colleges and maybe even some of our member schools that may have extended spring breaks,” she said on Thursday. “We can’t pin down a time of when we might be able to resume this.”