From the Trussville Tribune Staff Reports
NASHVILLE – The Southeastern Conference has joined the rest of the Power Five leagues in closing off its men’s basketball tournament to fans.
The SEC opened its tourney in Nashville on Wednesday night after the NCAA announced that only family and essential personnel would attend its men’s and women’s tournament games that begin around the country next week. The league said then it was evaluating plans for the remainder of its tournament.
About 15 minutes after Georgia beat Ole Miss to open the tournament, the SEC announced it was joining the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 in keeping the general public out of the final four days of its tournament.
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.”
The SEC also says fans will be kept out of all regular-season events on its campuses and other league championships through at least March 30.