NCAA

Jay Wright, more Philly college coaches react to NCAA tournament cancellation

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Jay Wright, more Philly college coaches react to NCAA tournament cancellation

The NCAA's decision Thursday to cancel the upcoming men's and women's Division I basketball tournament (see story) amidst growing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic was historic, and cut short seasons — and, in some cases, careers — for local college hoops programs.

Perhaps most prominently, Villanova's men's basketball team, which just days ago was gearing up to compete in the Big East tournament, will not repeat as Big East champion, nor will the Wildcats pursue their third national title in five years.

Head coach Jay Wright addressed reporters Thursday afternoon, and reacted on camera to the news as he learned about it, which made for a tough and emotional scene for Wright:

Wright later shared the following message on Twitter:

And Villanova isn't the only local program impacted by the abrupt ending to the 2019-20 seasons.

Drexel women's basketball head coach Denise Dillon was fully prepared to coach her team Thursday afternoon in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament. The Dragons were the top-seeded team in the tournament, poised to make a run at the program's second-ever NCAA tournament appearance, and its first since 2009.

Then, just before tip-off against UNC-Wilmington, the game — and tournament — was canceled.

Here's how Dillon said the scene played out, per the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Four minutes left on the clock before the game, a guy came by, said, 'Coach, get your team off the court.' Knowing this was eventually going to happen, it was still a shock. I walked past the refs. They were high fiving, ready to go. I said, 'No, we're done.'

The Inquirer also spoke with legendary Jefferson head coach Herb Magee, whose Rams went 27-4 this year and were set to face Stonehill in the NCAA Division II men's basketball tournament on March 14.

Here's what Magee told his players, per the Inquirer:

The only thing I could tell them, that their season is over. (He told his players) that they had a great year and I am proud of them.

Former St. Joe's head coach and current Michigan assistant Phil Martelli chimed in on the cancellation Thursday night:

Whether the NCAA will give extra years of eligibility to players whose seasons were cut short, and whether the NCAA hopes to reschedule the respective tournaments for later in the year, is currently unclear.

The NHLMLB, NBAMLS and NLL have all suspended their seasons as well.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

NCAA cancels men's and women's basketball tournaments

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AP Images

NCAA cancels men's and women's basketball tournaments

The men's NCAA Tournament has been cancelled amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Several conference tournaments that were set to play Thursday were cancelled. The ACC, SEC, Big 12, Pac 12, AAC and WAC were among them. 

The Big East was the only conference to tip off this afternoon as Creighton played St. John’s at Madison Square Garden. At halftime, the rest of the game — and tournament — was cancelled. On Wednesday, the NCAA initially made the decision to play the tournament with only essential staff and limited family in attendance. Those appear to be the guidelines that were followed by the Big East.

The women's tournament was also cancelled. The MAAC and MEAC were the only conferences to play tournament games Thursday — Fairfield beat Siena and N.C. Central beat N.C. A&T. The rest of the MAAC tournament was cancelled.

The decision comes a day after the NBA suspended its season. A Utah Jazz player, who multiple reports have said is All-Star Center Rudy Gobert, tested positive for the virus. The league postponed the game between the Jazz and Thunder Wednesday.

It was also reported Thursday that Gobert’s teammate Donovan Mitchell tested positive, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. There were 58 people in the Jazz organization that were tested and Gobert and Mitchell were the only positive tests, per Shams Charania of the Athletic.

The Sixers have made the decision to suspend basketball operations while multiple teams that have had direct contact with the Jazz are self-quarantining, including the Pistons, who were at the Wells Fargo Center Wednesday night.

The NHL, MLB, MLS and NLL have all suspended their seasons as well.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

NCAA orders near-empty March Madness arenas amid coronavirus concerns

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USA Today Images

NCAA orders near-empty March Madness arenas amid coronavirus concerns

The NCAA announced Wednesday afternoon that attendance at championship events, including both the men's and women's Division I basketball tournaments, will be restricted to essential staff and limited family attendance amidst the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

NCAA President Mark Emmert released a statement Wednesday on the NCAA's decision, calling it "disappointing" for college sports fans:

The NCAA's decision follows the Ivy League's decision on Tuesday to cancel its men's and women's basketball tournaments (see story) and send its regular-season champions to the respective NCAA tournaments.

Multiple programs in Philadelphia area could be affected by the NCAA's decision.

Villanova men's basketball team, which has been one of the 20 or so best teams in the country all season, will compete in the men's NCAA tournament. The Wildcats are seeking their third national championship since 2016.

Villanova head coach Jay Wright told reporters Wednesday that, once he saw the Ivy League cancel its tournament, he felt this decision was a possibility:

Drexel women's basketball team is the No. 1 seed in the CAA tournament, which is still scheduled to go on as planned as of Wednesday afternoon, and even without a tournament win the Dragons could end up in the women's NCAA tournament via an at-large bid. The program hasn't reached the NCAA tournament since 2009, its only previous appearance.

Temple men's basketball is a long shot, but the Owls begin competition in the AAC tournament on Thursday evening, which is still scheduled to go on as planned as of Wednesday afternoon.

Similarly, La Salle men's basketball is a long shot, but the Explorers begin competition in the Atlantic 10 tournament on Thursday evening, which is still scheduled to go on as planned as of Wednesday afternoon.

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