Pitt suspends athletic activity following ACC ruling

Pitt Athletics’ response to the coronavirus COVID-19 crises and Pitt's transition to remote learning continues to evolve.

On March 11, a statement from Pitt Athletics said: “Although in-person classes have been transitioned to distance learning, the University has concluded that Pitt Athletics may continue its practice and competition regimen as previously scheduled."

Then on Thursday, the ACC, of which Pitt is a member, said it was suspending "all athletic related activities including all competition, formal and organized practice, recruiting and participation in NCAA championships until further notice. The decision was made following consultation with the league’s presidents and athletic directors to mitigate the further spread of COVID-19.”

“This decision was made with one priority in mind—the health and well-being of our student-athletes," said Pitt Athletic Director Heather Lyke. "We are very cognizant of the disappointment that may be felt by our young people who worked and prepared so hard for their seasons. However, this is an unprecedented circumstance and we must prioritize safety and responsibility in our response to it. The decision to indefinitely suspend all competition, practices and recruiting is one we fully support. Our administrators, staff and coaches will remain actively engaged with all of our student-athletes, ensuring their well-being during this time of suspended athletics activity and distance learning.”

The president of the NCAA, Mark Emmert, made the ruling on March 11 to “conduct our upcoming championship events, including the Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, with only essential staff and limited family attendance.” Then a day later, the basketball tournaments were were canceled.

But since then several other conferences around the country, including the AAC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC and Atlantic 10 canceled their league basketball tournaments amid growing concern over the coronavirus. In New York City, the Big East started a quarterfinal game between St. John's and Creighton at Madison Square Garden before announcing at halftime that the rest of the league tournament would be canceled. In addition, two basketball powerhouses, Duke and Kansas, have severely curtailed or canceled all athletic activity, according to CBS Sports, which was set to broadcast the tournament.

The Pitt wrestling team was scheduled to compete March 19 to 21 in the NCAA Wrestling Championships in Minneapolis. Pitt’s teams also were in the NCAA Women's Swimming & Diving Championships, March 18 to 21 in Athens, Ga., and NCAA Men's Swimming & Diving Championships, March 25 to 28 in Indianapolis.

“The athletics programs right now, there are two issues: One is the student athletes are getting very specific guidance about what this means to them. … If you're already here, we're not telling you to leave. ... For those student athletes that are uncomfortable with that, we have a process where they can work with the athletic director, staff and the head coach to accommodate that,” Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said in a news conference Wednesday afternoon. “With regard to competition and events, we're following the guidance that's coming from the NCAA and the conference at this point, but I think that's one we're all watching very closely.”

Both the men’s baseball and women’s softball teams had games coming up this month on the Oakland campus. Other teams that compete in the spring include track and field, women’s soccer and women’s gymnastics.

Both the NBA and the NHL have suspended their seasons in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

— Susan Jones


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