UPDATE: America East Cancels UVM Basketball Championship Game | Off Message

UPDATE: America East Cancels UVM Basketball Championship Game

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COURTESY UVM ATHLETICS
  • Courtesy UVM Athletics
UPDATE: The America East Conference has cancelled the game.

In a brief statement, the America East conference said it was canceling Saturday's men's basketball championship in which top-seeded Vermont was scheduled to play.

The Thursday afternoon announcement followed an earlier one that stated the game would be played without fans in the stands.



The Big Ten conference cancelled the remainder of its basketball tournaments on Thursday as well.

"This is a proactive decision to protect the health, safety and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and everyone on our campuses," the America East statement read.

Original story below:

The University of Vermont men's basketball team will play its America East conference championship game Saturday morning in a mostly empty arena.

The athletic conference announced Thursday that attendance for the game at Patrick Gymnasium will be restricted to "essential gameday personnel from the participating institutions and conference staff in addition to credentialed media, ESPN personnel and family members of the participating teams."

"The decision was made based on new information, including the recommendation of the NCAA’s COVID-19 advisory panel, and under the advisement of public health officials to limit large gatherings due to coronavirus," the conference stated.

The change follows announcements this week that NCAA March Madness basketball tournaments will be played under similar conditions, and that the NBA was suspending its season after a player tested positive for COVID-19.

UVM said Wednesday that it would transition to remote instruction and bar large gatherings on campus. The restrictions, however, weren't scheduled to take effect until after Saturday's game.
UVM director of athletics Jeff Schulman issued a letter to fans on Thursday morning apologizing for the change, adding that he respects the conference's decision.

"I realize how disappointing this news is to everyone — to you, our loyal fans who inspire us with your incredible energy; to our players and coaches who worked so hard to earn the top seed and the right to host the championship in front of all of you; and to our entire campus community that takes such great pride in our talented student-athletes and their inspiring play and personal stories," Schulman wrote.

Refund information will be sent out to those who bought a ticket, according to the UVM athletic department.

UVM faces off against the Hartford Hawks, beginning at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 14. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN2.