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The Ivy League announced on Tuesday that it would be canceling its conference basketball tournament due to growing fears over the coronavirus, becoming the first NCAA Division I conference to do so.

“We understand and share the disappointment with student-athletes, coaches and fans who will not be able to participate in these tournaments,” Ivy League executive director Robin Harris said in a said in a statement. “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.”

Conference tournaments are an integral part of college basketball and March Madness. Teams who win their respective conference tournaments receive automatic bids to the NCAA tournament. Instead, in its statement, the Ivy League said that Princeton’s women’s team and Yale’s men team, who won the Ivy League regular season titles, will receive the automatic bids.

The statement also said: “Effective immediately, the League is also implementing highly-restrictive, in-venue spectator limitations for all other upcoming campus athletics events. The League is also canceling all out-of-season practices and competitions.”

The move follows several prominent universities opting for remote class instead of in-person ones, including Ivy League member Harvard.

The NCAA has said that it is monitoring the spread of coronavirus around the country, but its annual tournaments, slated to start next week, have yet to canceled or postponed.

“NCAA staff continues to prepare for March Madness but we are keenly aware of coronavirus and will continue to monitor in coordination with state/local health authorities and the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention],” the NCAA said in a statement a couple weeks ago.

Harvard guard Bryce Aiken, who is out for the season, made his displeasure with the ruling known on Twitter.

The Crimson placed second behind Yale during the regular season with a good record of 21-8. But because the conference tournament is now canceled, Harvard will have to wait and see if it receives an at-large bid to the tourney.

Professional sports leagues around the world have either canceled upcoming games or announced that they would be played in empty stadiums in response to the novel coronavirus.

On Tuesday, four of the five major American men’s sports leagues — the MLB, MLS, NBA and NHL — all agreed to close player locker rooms to the media in an effort to stem the spread of the virus.

The coronavirus has infected more than 100,000 people worldwide. In the U.S., there are more than 700 reported cases of COVID-19 and 27 reported deaths.

Tags Coronavirus Ivy League March Madness NCAA NCAA Division I
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