‘We wanted to do what was right:’ AAC cancels conference tournament, NCAA follows with cancellation of all spring sports


Morgan Anderson

The Wichita State Men’s Basketball team walks out of the Texas Wesleyan weight room after hearing the news of the American Athletic Conference cancellation on Thursday, March 12.

Update: The NCAA has canceled all spring sports starting on Thursday. The story below is the initial reporting from Thursday at noon.

FORT WORTH, Texas – American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco does not know what the future of spring sports holds.

Aresco took the podium in Fort Worth at noon on Wednesday to discuss the decision to cancel the men’s basketball conference tournament. The AAC was the first to do so out of the major conferences – the Power 5 conferences followed suit. He made it clear that there was no prior discussion directly with other conferences and that the AAC was making this decision on their own.

“We met this morning,” Aresco said. “We knew we were up against a time constraint. We knew that our players, student athletes will be taking the court in a matter of a few hours. We felt that whatever decision we made would have to be the right decision from our standpoint, and we were not concerned with what other conferences were going to do.”

“We wanted to do what was right.”

On top of the tournament being cancelled, Aresco said that there will be discussions in the “coming hours” regarding the continuation of all spring sports – which includes baseball, softball, and track among others. The Ivy league announced they have cancelled all spring sports. The University of Kansas announced that they will also be postponing the play and travel for their sports teams.

“That’s the primary discussion right now – what we are going to do with our spring competitions,” Aresco said. “We’ll probably have something by mid-afternoon, I’m not at a liberty to say right now. We’re definitely going to have a position on it and our schools will make a decision.”

“It’ll have to be a conference decision.”

With none of the tournament games slated to be played, Cincinnati has been named the conference champion.

Wichita State was lifting weights at Texas Wesleyan University at the time of the decision. Head Coach Gregg Marshall was on his way for media availability, but never showed up due to the announcement. Marshall has not been made available for comment.

Players were visably shocked with the news and senior center Jaime Echenique was in tears. Echenique does not know if he will get to play another collegiate basketball game.

Sophomore guard Erik Stevenson had three words walking to the bus: “This is crazy.”

Morgan Anderson
Wichita State senior Jaime Echenique walks to the bus at Texas Wesleyan University after the cancellation of the American Athletic Conference tournament.
Morgan Anderson
Wichita State junior Trey Wade and freshman Tyson Etienne sit on their phones at Texas Wesleyan University, reacting to the news of the cancellation of the AAC conference championship tournament.

The NCAA themselves have not made a decision on the postponement of the NCAA tournament. Aresco said he and AAC conference officials will oblige with the NCAA’s overall decision.

Prior to the decision to cancel, the AAC had made restrictions for the tournament which included additional hand sanitizer stations, two quarantine rooms for those showing signs of the coronavirus, and educational materials around the arena. All concession and parking attendant employees would have been wearing gloves.