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Big 12 Taking Precautions as Coronavirus Concerns Rise

An update on COVID-19 and how it is impacting postseason tournaments play.

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The Big 12 Tournament tips off Wednesday when Oklahoma State and Iowa State meet at 6 p.m. There is as much angst as there is anticipation over coronavirus concerns that continue to impact public events — sports and otherwise — across the U.S.

Not even the Big 12 Tournament is an exception to this. The league addressed those concerns on Tuesday in a statement saying it will proceed as planned with the event and with welcoming fans, but measures are being put in place to prevent any coronavirus transmissions.

“The priority of the Big 12 Conference is to ensure the safety of our students, coaches, administrators, event staff and fans as we continue to monitor all relevant information on the COVID-19 virus and its impact on hosting events in public spaces,” the Big 12 said. “At this time, the Phillips 66 Big 12 Basketball Championships will continue as scheduled with additional preventive measures.”

Those measures include closing locker rooms to the media and restricting media from on-court access. In the Big 12 and elsewhere, media venues are also being changed to avoid intimacy and close-contact.

Across the country, the Big 12 was in the majority of announcing it would continue as planned. The ACC, SEC, Big East, Pac-12 and others also announced they intend to continue programming as scheduled — with minor changes on media availability pre- and postgame.

That’s not the consensus, however. The Big West and MAC both announced their respective postseason tournaments will be held without spectators entirely. The Ivy League outright canceled its postseason tournaments — men’s and women’s — over coronavirus concerns.

The Big 12 won’t go quite that far, but it’s possible the NCAA could step in and shake things up. After saying it was “definitively” proceeding with postseason tournaments despite coronavirus concerns, the NCAA said Tuesday evening in a statement that it “continues to assess how COVID-19 impacts the conduct of our tournaments and events,” adding that they are “consulting with public health officials” and plan to make decisions in the coming days — a heel-turn that potentially opens up the NCAA to make a 180 on its stance.

As of now, for Oklahoma State and for the rest of the Big 12, it’s business as usual. But as the awareness and knowledge of coronavirus continues to spread — much like the coronavirus itself — it’s possible the Big 12 Tournament and other postseason competition at the college level could be impacted.

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