Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby announced Wednesday afternoon that the men’s and women’s Big 12 basketball tournaments will proceed without fans.
“Starting with tomorrow’s tournament game, we will be implementing limited access,” Bowlsby said. “What that means to our teams is they’ll have access to 125 tickets, they’ll be ticketed game-by-game, we’ll clear the venue after each game.”
Beginning with tomorrow's tournament games, we will be implementing limited access. Teams will have access to 125 tickets for staff and guests of student-athletes.
For the full announcement and more details ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/8W7h565eGn
— Big 12 Conference (@Big12Conference) March 11, 2020
Bowlsby said the decision to limit access was made in coordination with the conference’s board of directors and several other entities.
“Obviously we don’t do this lightly,” Bowlsby said. “We are blessed to have the best basketball tournament in all of college basketball and to have to take these steps is painful to everyone that’s involved, but these are unusual times and so we have taken the steps that we think are appropriate.”
West Virginia’s athletic director, Shane Lyons said in a release that he agrees with Bowlsby’s decision.
“I understand and support Commissioner Bob Bowlsby’s decision to go to a limited access protocol for the 2020 Big 12 men’s and women’s basketball championships,” Lyons said. “Based on the recommendation of medical professionals, it is a necessary decision to help curb the threat of spreading the COVID-19. We will announce information on refunds for the fans who purchased all-session tickets through the Mountaineer Ticket Office in the coming days.”
The games will be conducted with the minimum number of people in the area as possible. Pep bands, cheerleaders and dance teams will not be permitted. the 125 tickets teams receive will go to family and friends with only media and essential staff permitted in the area.
“The attempt is to absolutely minimize the number of people that are here but still to find a way to conduct the events and actually get an opportunity to play the games.”
The Big 12 men’s tournament started Wednesday afternoon with Oklahoma State and Iowa State laying at 7 p.m. EST and Kansas State and TCU playing at 9 p.m. EST. There are four games scheduled for Thursday, with Texas and Texas Tech in the morning and West Virginia and Oklahoma closing the day at 9 p.m. EST.
The Big 12 women’s tournament is set to start on Thursday with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State at 7 p.m. EST and Kansas and Texas Tech at 9:30. West Virginia is set to play Texas Friday at 8:30 p.m. EST.
This story was updated at 9:10 p.m. to include comments from WVU AD Shane Lyons.