Future of collegiate sports in jeopardy as area schools deal with cancellations

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Athletic programs across Southwest Virginia are left wondering what’s next after cancellations rolled in on Thursday in a move to limit the spread of coronavirus.

The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) suspended its men’s basketball tournament in Greensboro, North Carolina just moments before the quarterfinals were set to tip-off. The league then went on to suspend all athletics activities indefinitely and pull athletes from upcoming NCAA competition. The ACC’s decision came before the NCAA announced it was canceling all remaining championships in the school year, including March Madness and the College World Series.

The immediate impact of the cancellations meant no return trip to the NCAA tournament for the Liberty men’s basketball team, which earned an automatic bid after winning the Atlantic Sun tournament last Sunday.

It also meant Virginia men’s basketball wouldn’t be able to defend its national title. The Cavaliers were set to play in the ACC quarterfinals Thursday night, entering the postseason with an eight-game winning streak.

The NCAA’s decision to cancel championships has repercussions that extend far beyond basketball. Virginia Tech was set to send nine wrestlers to the national championship meet in Minneapolis next weekend while 15 Hokies were ready to compete at the Indoor Track and Field championships in Albuqueque, New Mexico. Spring championships, including baseball and softball’s College World Series, and lacrosse’s national championship weekend, were part of the NCAA’s cancellations.

With the ACC’s announcement of suspending all athletic activities, Virginia Tech’s spring football is on hold until the league can decide next steps. As of Thursday night, it was unclear whether the Hokies’ Spring Game will proceed as scheduled on April 18 at Lane Stadium. Virginia had already decided to suspend all athletic activities before the ACC took action for all its member schools.

Other conferences followed suit on Thursday. Half of the Big South women’s tournament quarterfinals were set to take place in Radford before the conference joined others in cancelling postseason basketball competition. The Big South, where Radford is a member school, as a whole suspended all athletic activities until at least March 15. Conference leaders will meet Friday to discuss the situation.

The ASUN, which Liberty is a part of, decided to suspend all competitions until at least April 5, while the VMI’s league, the Southern Conference, will clear its calendar through March 30.

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