From March 1-14, Las Vegas is hosting eight different college basketball conference tournaments, four for each gender, at five different venues.
That means, over the course of 14 days, dozens of programs and all of those fan bases will descend upon Sin City. With COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease) spreading as a global pandemic, thousands of people inside a closed venue like a basketball arena might not be the best idea.
On Thursday, the first confirmed case of Coronavirus was reported in Southern Nevada. The leagues hosting those eight tournaments in Vegas, the Mountain West, Pac-12, WAC, WCC remain undeterred.
“The Mountain West is aware of this morning’s announcement of the first case of COVID-19 in Southern Nevada,” an updated statement from the league read on Thursday. “The league office continues to collaborate with UNLV and Thomas & Mack Center to monitor developments, and is consulting with all appropriate parties to determine courses of action.
“The university is continually adapting its response plan with guidance from the CDC for institutions of higher education which advises close contact with the Southern Nevada Health District. UNLV launched unlv.edu/coronavirus on the Student Health Center website. The site is regularly updated with information about the virus as well as the latest guidance and recommendations from the CDC and the U.S. Department of State. The Thomas & Mack Center is maintaining its own safety protocols during the championships, which include regular cleanings of all areas and numerous hand sanitizing locations on the concourse.”
The Mountain West Women’s Tournament concluded on Wednesday, but the men’s event will contest its semifinals on Friday, including Utah State-Nevada, with the championship game set for Saturday night.
The other six tournaments will all conclude next week, capped by the Pac-12 men’s championship game on the evening of March 14 at T-Mobile Arena.
The WAC made significant news on Monday when Chicago State announced it would not make a road trip to play at Seattle University on Thursday and Utah Valley on Saturday. Right behind that, UMKC declined to travel to Seattle University for a game on Saturday.
Seattle has become Ground Zero for Coronavirus in the United States. As of Thursday night, there were 70 confirmed cases in Seattle and 11 deaths.
The WAC Tournament is slated to begin March 12 at Orleans Arena with Chicago State in tow as the No. 8 seed.
“While disappointed that the situation has evolved as it has, I fully respect the right of any member institution to determine what it believes to be in the best interest of its student-athletes,” WAC Commissioner Jeff Hurd said in a statement. “From a conference standpoint, the necessary adjustments will be made according to NCAA policy in order to bracket the conference tournament scheduled for March 11-14 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.”