Coronavirus update: General public won't be allowed to attend MAC, Big West conference tournaments

The Big West Conference will host its men's and women's basketball tournaments without spectators this week as a "precaution for preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus," the conference announced Tuesday. The Mid-American Conference took a similar step by announcing a "restricted attendance policy."

Leagues around the country varied in their approaches on Tuesday to hosting basketball tournaments amid growing concern over the coronavirus outbreak. The Big West and MAC's measures were moderate compared to the Ivy League, which cancelled its men's and women's tournaments.

But by restricting the general public, the Big West and the MAC went farther than the country's major conferences such as the ACC, which announced that its men's tournament would continue with fans permitted to attend.

The MAC men's and women's tournaments will also close to the general public. But "credentialed institutional personnel, student-athlete family members, credentialed media, television and radio crews, and official team party members" will be allowed to attend, according to a release. The MAC men's tournament is scheduled for Thursday through Saturday at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland.

The MAC decision was based on a "recommendation" from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine. The state's first coronavirus cases were discovered on Tuesday.   

"The challenge is we were at one place last night then -- boom," said MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher.  

The Big West men's tournament is scheduled for Thursday through Saturday at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.

"The Big West Board of Directors, comprised of the chief executive officers of the nine member universities, strongly feel that this is a prudent way to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus while being sensitive to our student-athletes who have pointed towards playing in the tournament all season," Big West Commissioner Dennis Farrell said in a release.

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