Hilltoppers arrive in Frisco ready to clear bad memories

WKU athletic director Todd Stewart talks to head coach Rick Stansbury during practice on Tuesday, March 10, 2020, at The Ford Center at The Star. (Austin Anthony/photo@bgdailynews.com)

FRISCO, Texas – Conference USA will not allow the general public to attend the rest of the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments in reaction to the global pandemic of the COVID-19 virus.

C-USA released a statement Wednesday night announcing it will implement a strict attendance procedure for the rest of the tournament with games being played with the official team party, student-athlete family, credentialed media, television and radio crews and essential personnel.

C-USA officials made the announcement after “consultation with the NCAA, local authorities and related health and safety officials.”

The decision by the conference falls in line with a mass wave of similar moves in the sports world.

The NCAA on Wednesday announced it will prohibit spectators from attending its upcoming championships, notably the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments starting next week.

Multiple conferences around the country also announced that only teams and essential staff members will be permitted into tournaments starting Thursday.

COVID-19, commonly known as the coronavirus, was a main topic of discussion at the C-USA officials and athletic director’s meetings Wednesday morning before the first round of the tournament started that afternoon at The Ford Center.

The Denton Record-Chronicle reported that C-USA officials met Wednesday afternoon to discuss if the conference would prohibit fans the rest of the tournament. The event will run daily until the men’s and women’s championship games slated for Saturday in Frisco, Texas.

The Dallas County Health Department has reported three positive cases of coronavirus and the World Health Organization marked the disease as a pandemic on Wednesday.

The Western Kentucky men's basketball team is scheduled to play the winner of UAB and UTSA in the quarterfinals Thursday night at 8:30 p.m. CT. The WKU women's basketball team will play Charlotte on Thursday at 2 p.m. CT.

In response to WKU’s announcement that spring break will be extended to March 22, WKU athletics spokesman Zach Greenwell confirmed that all spring athletics events will continue as scheduled.

“We are continually engaged with our campus leaders and monitoring this evolving situation in conjunction with the NCAA and Conference USA,” Greenwell said.

The WKU softball team is scheduled to host Tennessee Tech on March 18 to start a nine-game homestand against teams including Marshall, Kentucky, FIU and Lipscomb.

The Hilltopper baseball team will start a three-game home series against Louisiana Tech on March 20 and host Louisville at Bowling Green Ballpark on March 24.

​— Follow WKU athletics beat writer Elliott Pratt on Twitter @EPrattBGDN or visit bgdailynews.com.

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