PROVO — As sports leagues around the United States put themselves on hiatus over concerns surrounding COVID-19, the athletic departments of Utah’s universities are making their own accommodations to help combat the spread of the virus commonly referred to as novel coronavirus.
BYU football canceled the remainder of its spring football practices, workouts and team activities for the week, including Friday's coaches clinic featuring Super Bowl champion (and BYU alumnus) Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Here's a rundown of the full changes across the state.
University of Utah
Hours after the Pac-12 canceled its men’s basketball tournament in Las Vegas, the University of Utah announced the suspension or cancellation of all athletic competitions — home or away, conference or nonconference — until further notice.
“The Pac-12’s decision was made in consultation with the member universities in an effort to limit the spread of the virus and in the interest of the health and safety of our student-athletes, campus personnel, working and event personnel, and all those who attend Pac-12 events,” the university noted in a prepared statement.
Important news for our fans in accordance with the Pac-12 Conference decision. We’ll have more updates as they become available. https://t.co/vvj6nCJ4iN— Utah Athletics (@utahathletics) March 12, 2020
BYU initially barred the public for all athletic events on campus, the university said in a prepared statement Thursday. That meant only participants, coaches and essential staff would have been allowed to attend games, which range from baseball games to extramural club sports.
But later in the day, the university took the move a step further: all sports, home and away, were put suspended, beginning with this weekend's three-game baseball series with Loyola Marymount originally scheduled to begin Thursday night in Provo.
"We have worked closely with the BYU administration and our affiliated conferences regarding the health and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans,” said BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe in a prepared statement. "We realize this is a great disappointment to our student-athletes and coaches who have worked hard to represent themselves, their families and BYU at the highest levels, but fully support the current measures to protect the welfare of the BYU Athletics family and Cougar Nation. Our focus going forward is to help safeguard our student-athletes and assist them in managing this unique challenge in their lives."
Effective immediately, all athletic events on BYU's campus will be closed to the public. Only participants, coaches and essential staff will be allowed to attend. BYU Athletics will provide updates as more information becomes available. pic.twitter.com/2lSbpuWOWY— BYU Cougars (@BYUCougars) March 12, 2020
Utah State University
The Mountain West also made the move Thursday to suspend spring competitions across all sports. Teams on the road may finish the currently assigned tournament or series before returning to campus, while those at home were asked to suspend travel immediately.
The status of local practice activities such as spring football was left to the determination of each institution. Utah State opened spring football Monday, but has suspended all team activities — including practice — through March 17.
The spring sports season in the Mountain West has been canceled, at least until further notice.
"The health and safety of our student-athletes, fans, coaches and staff is our top priority," the university said in a prepared statement. "We will continue to monitor what has become a very fluid situation to determine our next steps."
The Aggies' men's basketball team, which clinched an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament via last week's Mountain West championship, saw its season abruptly end.
Utah Valley University
Utah Valley suspended all athletic events — home and away, conference or nonconference — indefinitely, in accordance with the Western Athletic Conference mandate to suspend the spring season and cancel the league basketball tournaments.
After the WAC women’s basketball tournament was suspended early for medical concerns related to a person involved in the last game between Cal State Bakersfield and Grand Canyon, Hurd definitively stated that the person was not infected with COVID-19.
Still, the moment served a wake-up call for further health concerns at the tournament.
“If we’re going to make a mistake, we’re going to make it on the side of caution,” Hurd said. “We may be accused of overcaution, and if that’s the case, so be it.
“I think we made the right decision, and I think we made the only decision that made sense. As we move on and look back on this … I don’t think there’s any way that we won’t say that it was a good decision.”
For the spring season, all sports sponsored by the WAC — baseball, softball, tennis and outdoor track and field — have been suspended.
“There will be no conference competition or conference championships, as of right now,” Hurd said.
The commissioner did leave open the opportunity to resume competition, saying WAC presidents and athletic directors would reexamine the situation every Monday via conference call.
"We will adapt as situations change, if it does," Hurd said. "This is also tied into what’s going on on individual campuses, and how that has to be handled.
"We just don’t know everything that we need to know. We are taking a cautious approach."
Westminster College, Dixie State
The Division II Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference also suspended its spring season, an equally abrupt ending to the D-II basketball tournament and other sports.
Westminster's men's and women's ski teams were into the second day of the NCAA skiing championships when the announcement came, and women's basketball was scheduled to face Colorado Mesa in a week.
Instead, the RMAC President's Council voted to suspend all championship and non-championship competitions and travel until at least April 6.