Big Ten reverses course, bans fans from hoops tournament, as well as all spring sporting events
The Big Ten announced Wednesday evening that beginning Thursday, its men's basketball tournament in Indianapolis would be closed to spectators because of the risk of the coronavirus.
The conference had earlier in the day stated that the tournament would take place with fans in attendance, and that was the case Wednesday night for the Northwestern-Minnesota and Nebraska-Indiana games.
The Big Ten also announced that all spring Big Ten athletic contests will be closed to all fans except immediate family members of athletes.
Here is the statement from the Big Ten:
"The Big Ten Conference announced this evening that beginning Thursday, March 12, 2020, attendance at all Big Ten men’s basketball tournament games will be limited to student-athletes, coaches, event staff, essential team and conference staff, TV network partners, credentialed media, and immediate family members of the participating teams.
"Additionally, all further Big Ten Conference winter and spring sport competitions, including championship/tournament events, will also be limited to student-athletes, coaches, event staff, essential team and Conference staff, TV network partners, credentialed media, and immediate family members of the participating teams.
"The main priority of the Big Ten Conference is to ensure the safety of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, fans and media as we continue to monitor all relevant information on the COVID-19 virus on a daily basis."
The reversal by the Big Ten came shortly after the NCAA announced it would play all its upcoming championship events, including the NCAA basketball tournament, in front of limited crowds.
There was a health scare at the Big Ten tournament Wednesday night, when Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg, the father of Michigan State player Jack Hoiberg, left the game early with an illness. He was taken to a nearby hospital and eventually diagnosed with the common flu and released.
Nebraska players were quarantined in their Bankers Life Fieldhouse locker room following the loss to Indiana until Hoiberg was discharged.