The Ivy League Tuesday canceled its men's and women's basketball tournaments, the same day Harvard announced it will be moving courses online and told studentsnot to return from spring break — all because of concerns about the coronavirus outbreak.
The league became the first conference to skip post-season tournaments in basketball this year, according to ESPN.
The tournaments nicknamed "Ivy Madness" were scheduled to take place at Harvard's Lavietes Pavilion in the Brighton neighborhood of Boston this weekend, featuring Princeton, Columbia, Penn and Yale on the women's side and Harvard, Yale, Penn and Princeton on the men's side. The regular season champions, Princeton's women and Yale's men, will automatically enter the NCAA tournaments.
“We understand and share the disappointment with student-athletes, coaches and fans who will not be able to participate in these tournaments,” Robin Harris, the league's executive director 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."
While Princeton had an undefeated conference record heading into the women's tournament and is ranked in the Top 25, Harvard's men's team trailed Yale by only one game in league play.
The tournaments are not the only events that will impacted. The league also announced that it is putting in place "highly-restrictive, in-venue spectator limitations" for all upcoming athletic events on its campuses, but did not specify what exactly those were.
The league is also canceling all out-of-season practices and competitions, such as spring football practices.
WGBH News contacted Harvard's athletics department to request comment from Harvard men's basketball coach Tommy Amaker, but was referred back to the league's statement.
The NCAA indicated the national basketball tournaments — known as March Madness — will proceed as scheduled this month.
“NCAA member schools and conferences make their own decisions regarding regular season and conference tournament play," said Mark Emmert, the NCAA's president, in a statement. "As we have stated, we will make decisions on our events based on the best, most current public health guidance available. Neither the NCAA COVID-19 advisory panel, made up of leading public health and infectious disease experts in America, nor the CDC or local health officials have advised against holding sporting events. In the event circumstances change, we will make decisions accordingly.”
The sports world as a whole, including major professional leagues, is grappling with how to deal with the threat of coronavirus. On Monday night, MLB, MLS, the NBA and the NHL released a joint statement outlining new policies limiting journalists' interactions with players.
“After consultation with infectious disease and public health experts, and given the issues that can be associated with close contact in pre- and post-game settings, all team locker rooms and clubhouses will be open only to players and essential employees of teams and team facilities until further notice," the leagues said in a statement. "Media access will be maintained in designated locations outside of the locker room and clubhouse setting. These changes will be effective beginning with tomorrow’s games and practices. We will continue to closely monitor this situation and take any further steps necessary to maintain a safe and welcoming environment.”
In Italy, which is dealing with a large outbreak, all sports have been halted outright as part of a national lockdown aimed at combating the the virus.
Meanwhile, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said Tuesday the Boston Marathon remains set for April 20, but said it is a "very fluid situation."