The coronavirus outbreak prompted the Ivy League to cancel its men’s and women’s postseason tournaments on Tuesday — the winners of which would have received automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament set to begin later this month.
The league said it would restrict other athletic events as the outbreak upends major sporting competitions worldwide, but did not provide details.
“Regrettably, the information and recommendations presented to us from public health authorities and medical professionals have convinced us that this is the most prudent decision,” Ivy League Executive Director Robin Harris said in a statement.
The cancellation means that the regular-season winners — Princeton’s women’s team and Yale’s men’s team — will automatically qualify for the NCAA tournament.
The league also includes Harvard, Dartmouth, Columbia, Cornell, Brown, and Penn.
Both the men’s and women’s team at Penn had qualified for the four-team tournament but are now out of the Big Dance’s consideration.
“Didn’t see it coming,” Penn’s men’s basketball coach Steve Donahue said (h/t Philadelphia Inquirer). “To pull this from our kids, it’s the most horrific thing I’ve dealt with as a coach.”
The men’s team was set to play Yale in the Ivy League semifinals on Saturday after scrambling to get the last spot of the four-team conference tournament, needing three wins to keep their season alive.
They did just that, defeating Brown, Cornell, and Columbia to finish with an 8-6 conference record and an overall mark of 16-11.
Penn’s women’s team was 20-7 on the season and would have been the No. 2 seed of the Ivy League tournament with a 10-4 conference record.
The announcement comes days ahead of the expected start of the wildly popular NCAA Division I basketball tournament nicknamed “March Madness”, which takes place in venues across the country, drawing millions of viewers and corresponding ad dollars.
The NCAA said last week that it was not advising the cancellation of sporting events at U.S. colleges and universities, urging “risk mitigation.”
The NCAA did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.