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            Power 5 conference and others have canceled conference tournaments

            SEC tournament called off because of the coronavirus 

            The conference called off its annual men's basketball tournament late Thursday morning, just hours before the second round was to take place at Bridgestone Arena without spectators.

            In a news release sent out at 11:45 a.m. ET, the conference simply said it was no longer deemed worth the risk.


             

            The SEC Tournament got off to a somewhat normal start Wednesday as the league's bottom-four teams — including Georgia — competed in the first-round games. The 13th-seeded Bulldogs defeated Ole Miss 81-63 only to find out afterward that SEC officials had decided to continue the tournament without spectators.

            » More AJC coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

            “We'll adjust; same for the other team,” Georgia coach Tom Crean said. “In the world now, this is the new normal.”

            But SEC participants awoke Thursday to news that the MLS and several other sports had decided to join the NBA in suspending their seasons, at least for the time being. The ACC tournament in Greensboro, N.C., and the Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis also were canceled Thursday morning, as are most ongoing conference tournaments.

            The NCAA on Wednesday decided to conduct its annual tournament known as “March Madness” without spectators. Now that’s being reconsidered.

            As for the Bulldogs, their season comes to a sudden and abrupt end. They were scheduled to play Florida at 3:30 p.m. Thursday in the second round of the SEC Tournament after defeating Ole Miss 61-63 Wednesday night.

            Instead, their second season under coach Tom Crean ends with a 16-16 record.

            “This is such a serious situation, whatever gets canceled and postponed, the people that are making these decisions know what they're doing,” Crean said late Wednesday night. “We just have to trust it. You take the hand that's dealt.”

            The SEC also canceled its gymnastics championship and equestrian championships, which were scheduled for this coming weekend. The Georgia track teams are in New Mexico where they're scheduled to compete in the NCAA indoor championships without spectators. That's the plan for the SEC swimming and diving championships next week in Athens as well.

            As of Thursday afternoon, the plan was for Georgia's spring football practices to begin Tuesday as planned and the annual G-Day spring intrasquad game is still set to be played on April 18, according to Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity.

            “It's been surreal,” said McGarity said, who has continued to meet with the other SEC ADs and presidents in a conference room on the third floor of the Omni Hotel Downtown Nashville. “Fortunately we were already all together, the ADs and the presidents, so we could make some of these decisions.”

            McGarity, UGA President Jere Morehead and the Georgia basketball team are leaving Nashville via a Delta charter jet later Thursday afternoon. 

            Check back for updates of the continuing story.

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