On Wednesday evening, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey announced that the remainder of the 2020 SEC Tournament in Nashville would be played without fans in attendance. On Thursday morning, about an hour before Tennessee and Alabama were set to tip-off at 1:00 PM Eastern, the SEC canceled the remainder of the tournament.
“Based on the latest developments and the continued spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Southeastern Conference today announced the cancellation of the remainder of the 2020 Men’s Basketball Tournament in Nashville,” the SEC said in a release.
Wednesday saw the opening round of games played, and Tennessee and Alabama were set to begin the second round of play on Thursday. Now, the Vols will not play, and there won’t be an SEC Tournament champion this year.
It’s the first time since the tournament was renewed in 1979 that there will not be an SEC Tournament played in full.
“We understand that this decision will be disappointing to our student-athletes and coaches who have been preparing all season to compete in this event as well as viewers at home,” said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. “While this was not an easy decision, the health and well-being of our entire SEC community is of paramount importance.”
The SEC’s regular season champion, the Kentucky Wildcats, will be awarded the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
As of right now, both the NCAA Tournament and NIT are still set to go, but neither tournament will be held in front of fans. Only essential staff, family members of the team, and credentialed media members will be allowed to attend.
Those policies, of course, are subject to change.
If all postseason play is canceled, Tennessee will finish the 2019-20 season with a 17-14 overall record.
Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes called the decision to cancel the remainder of the SEC Tournament the “right, smart decision.”