SEC tournament games to be played without fans amid coronavirus concerns

Sports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (SEC) – The Southeastern Conference has announced it will conduct the 2020 SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament with only essential staff, limited family and credentialed media in attendance at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville for the remainder of the week beginning on Thursday following the recommendation of the NCAA COVID-19 Advisory Panel related to conducting sporting events closed to the public.

In addition, the SEC announced that all regular season contests in all sports on SEC campuses and SEC Championship events will be conducted with similar attendance restrictions effective Thursday, March 12 through at least March 30 at which time the conference and its member universities will re-evaluate conditions.

The SEC issued a statement from SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey:

“In light of recent developments beyond our control related to the spread of the coronavirus, including a recommendation from the NCAA COVID-19 Advisory Panel, and after consultation with our member universities, we have made the difficult decision to hold the 2020 SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament in Nashville without spectators beginning with games of Thursday, March 12. Effective immediately, the policy will also apply to other SEC Championship events and on-campus regular season games scheduled through at least the end of March.

“After conferring with local and national health authorities, we remain confident in our ability to safeguard the health and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and other staff who will be participating as well as the limited number of family members and media who will be in attendance at the tournament.

“We regret the inconvenience and disappointment this decision has caused our fans, especially those who have already traveled to Nashville for the tournament.”

As previously announced, the SEC has implemented the following enhanced health measures for the 2020 SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament:

  • Use of hospital grade disinfectant to sanitize locker rooms before teams arrive and immediately upon departure;
  • Sanitization of game balls with hospital grade disinfectant after each practice and game;
  • Sanitization of team benches plus band and cheerleader seating areas following each game;
  • Hand sanitizers, disinfectant wipes and Lysol spray in team locker rooms;
  • Hand sanitizers at scorer’s table, in officials’ locker rooms, operations offices and media areas.

For the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament, automatic refunds of ticket purchases will be made to fans who are the original purchaser of the tickets from SEC Office or an SEC university, or a verified purchaser on the SEC Ticket Exchange powered by Ticketmaster. For regular season events, each campus will determine refund policies and procedures.

The SEC Network will televise the entire first and second round of the tournament and the quarterfinals evening session. ESPN will broadcast the afternoon session of the quarterfinals, both semifinal matchups and the championship game.

The SEC remains in continued communication with public health officials and reminds everyone to be attentive to everyday preventive actions identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov).

RELATED: NBA suspends season until further notice, over coronavirus

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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