As the United States prepares to deal with the fallout from the global coronavirus pandemic, the NCAA announced on Thursday that it is taking the unprecedented step of calling off its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments for 2020.
Cascading cancellations of conference tournaments, including the Big 12 event in Kansas City, pointed to the inevitability of a year without March Madness. Nevertheless, some fans held out hope for a modified version of the Big Dance to be played later this spring. The NCAA’s announcement made it clear that’s not feasible in light of the extreme measures being taken by local governments and colleges to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The Big 12 announced additional measures that included suspending out-of-season practices (read: spring football) until March 29. Recruiting activities will be on hold until then, too.
The news brings an abrupt and unfortunate end to the careers of standout OU athletes. Senior forward Kristian Doolittle, who was named to All-Big 12 First Team earlier this week, tweeted out a note of thanks to Sooner Nation.
Wild to think it’s over this way.. but these past 4 years have been all I could dream of and I’m forever grateful for the opportunity to represent my school and state to the best of my ability!! Thank you for all of the support!! pic.twitter.com/mNPgrZthnl— Kristian Doolittle (@kristiandoolit1) March 12, 2020
Meanwhile, senior Maggie Nichols won’t have the opportunity to win a third straight all-around national championship for the Oklahoma Sooners and their top-ranked women’s gymnastics squad.
devastating. absolutely devastating. https://t.co/RFvw6cgSad— MAGGIE NICHOLS (@MagsGotSwag12) March 12, 2020
The announcement cut short some other promising starts for teams in the spring sports. The OU baseball team was sitting on a 14-4 record since starting the season in February. Additionally, the OU men’s golf team that attained a No. 1 ranking this year was expected to challenge for a national championship. Finally, this means no run to Oklahoma City for Patty Gasso’s softball program, which is a bummer.
Sooner football fans now await news on the status of the April 18 spring game and the planned unveiling of a statue for legendary Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield.