BROOKLYN, NY — After barring fans from attending games at the Barclays Center for the rest of the weekend in an announcement late Thursday night, the Atlantic 10 Conference has decided to cancel its conference tournament amdists the coronavirus outbreak.  

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Bernadette McGlade, Atlantic 10 Conference commissioner, said while the decision wasn’t any easy one, it was in the best interest of the student-athletes and all involved with the Atlantic 10 Men’s Basketball Championship. 

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“The championship is the highlight of our season, it’s the highlight of our student athletes seasons and our coaches,” McGlade told the media Thursday. “Being there at the Barclays and in Brooklyn is something that we all love. It was a very difficult decision, you can probably hear that in my voice. We are in very uncertain times, and very challenging times.”

McGlade continued, “The situation that has developed, especially so rapidly, with the information and news we’ve been receiving from all of our advisory boards and experts across the country regarding the coronavirus, gave us a decision that we absolutely had to make. The welfare and the precautionary decision-making to protect our student athletes, all of our support staff, coaches, the public and family members is something everyone across the country is doing right now.”

Thorr Bjorn, Rhode Island athletic director and chair of the Atlatnic 10, said the decision was made out of precaution. After a Thursday morning meeting, all Atlantic 10 athletics directors concluded that cancelling the tournament would be in the best interest of players, coaches, staff and the public. 

“You hate to pull people off the court, but the right decision was made, even in the last hour,” Bjorn said. “This was a preventive decision, not a reactionary one. 

 Matt McCall, UMass men’s basketball coach, said while his players were disappointed, they understand the circumstances. 

“We fully respect and understand Bernaette’s and the Atlantic 10’s decision,” McCall said. “Throughout this entire process, they’ve made sure that our student-athletes well-being comes first.”

McCall said, “Our guys are disappointed. They wanted to play. There’s nothing like playing in the tournament at Barclays. But we give Bernadette, her entire staff and all of the athletic directors a tremendous amount of credit for how they handled this.”

Mike Rhoades, head coach of Virginia Commonwealth, said his team found out after pregame warmups. He applied a life lesson to a tough situation. 

“It’s surreal,” Rhoades said. “But the reality of it is, and I’ve been coaching for awhile, as you continue to get older and have a family, you realize it’s your responsibility to keep your players healthy and safe. It’s tough to talk to you guys afterwards, but I am really glad with the great leadership of our conference. This decision was the right one.”

Rhoades said making the announcement to his team was no easy feat. 

The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team, which was scheduled to play Geroge Mason at 2:30 p.m., has not yet commented on the matter.

In a fluid, ever-changing situation that is COVI-19, McGlade said it’s hard to predict what comes next in terms of the NCAA Tournament, which is scheduled to begin early next week. 

“All of the leadership executives within the NCAA and our committee are very attentive and attuned to everything that’s going on, and looking at all of the impactful information that’s coming on as we are charged with taking care of our responsibilities.”  

Video Report IV: Reporters Describe the Deconstruction of the Arena

Video Report III: Another Look Inside the Empty Barclays Arena

Video Report II: Inside an Empty Barclays Arena

Video Report: A10 Tournament Cancelled

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