BREAKING: MAAC cancels postseason basketball play, suspends spring sports

By Austin Ferguson

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) has canceled the remainder of its conference tournament and has suspended operations with MAAC spring sports due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus and COVID-19, conference Commissioner Rich Ensor announced at a press conference on March 12.

“It’s a tough day in sports and this country faces a major crisis,” Ensor began. “…the season has been canceled, the tournament has been canceled.”

Rider women’s basketball Head Coach Lynn Milligan spoke about the news of the tournament’s cancellation.

“We are obviously devastated that the MAAC Tournament has been canceled,” Milligan said. “This team has had an amazing season and was prepared for this week and are extremely disappointed.”

Rider Vice President of University Marketing and Communication Kristine Brown commented on the cancelation of the tournament.

“I am sure that was a decision that was extremely difficult to make,” Brown said. “But I think everybody is doing their best to try to make the best decisions during a very difficult time where things are changing so rapidly.”


At 4:16 p.m. on March 12, the NCAA announced that it had canceled all of its remaining winter and spring championship tournaments. The NCAA men’s basketball tournament was scheduled to start on March 17.

With that announcement, the MAAC women’s basketball quarterfinal matchup between Siena and Fairfield was the penultimate college basketball game in the country of the 2019-2020 season.

According to Ensor, if the NCAA tournament was to continue, Rider’s women and Siena’s men’s basketball teams would have represented the MAAC in it.

The appearance would have been the Lady Broncs’ first NCAA tournament appearance in program history.

Ensor especially felt pain for the MAAC’s seniors whose careers were cut short by the cancelation.

“I personally regret having to do this,” Ensor said. “I feel their pain.”

One of Rider’s men’s basketball seniors, center Tyere Marshall, took to Twitter to air out his frustration with his senior season being cut short.

“This ain’t right, I need another year of eligibility,” Marshall tweeted, tagging the NCAA’s official account.

Milligan said, “Our seniors have been outstanding and my heart is breaking for them as well as the many other players and seniors who have had an abrupt end to their seasons and careers.”

Ensor also announced that effective on the morning of March 13, all activities related to spring sports in the MAAC, including games and practices, will be suspended.

Spring sports that are in action on March 12 will continue as scheduled, Ensor said.

The Rider volleyball team’s Twitter account released a statement, expressing its sympathy for the Rider basketball, wrestling, baseball, softball, track and field, swimming and diving and golf teams.

“Our hearts are heavy right now,” Rider volleyball’s tweet said. “…Heads high Broncs.”

No spring sports games were scheduled for March 12 for Rider teams.

“We’re all in the business of protecting our student-athletes, but also providing them the opportunity to succeed,” Ensor said. “It’s really a blow for us all.”

According to Ensor, who has been MAAC commissioner since 1988, the decision to cancel the MAAC tournament and the MAAC’s spring season was unanimous among active MAAC school presidents, which includes Rider President Gregory Dell’Omo.

Ensor said that he is scheduled for another conference call at 3 p.m. with the NCAA Board of Directors.

“I don’t know what to expect [from the call],” Ensor said. “But this is certainly a growing crisis.”

According to Brown, Rider’s teams are returning to Lawrenceville, New Jersey, and will not be held in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

The announcement came after cancellations rang throughout the sports world, including the cancellations of all college basketball conference tournaments, including the NCAA tournament.

Ensor explained that one of the reasons for canceling the tournament so late was due to “waiting for feedback from the NCAA on what they were doing.”

Major sports leagues also announced suspensions of their respective seasons. The NBA announced its suspension after it was revealed that Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert preliminary tested positive for the coronavirus on March 11.

On March 12, the NHL and MLB announced suspensions or moderations to their seasons, according to ESPN.

With that announcement, the MAAC women’s basketball quarterfinal matchup between Siena and Fairfield was the final college basketball game in the country of the 2019-2020 season.

According to Ensor, if the NCAA tournament was to continue, Rider’s women and Siena’s men’s basketball teams would have represented the MAAC in it.

The appearance would have been the Lady Broncs’ first NCAA tournament appearance in program history.

During the quarterfinal between the Saints and the Stags, the Big East conference pulled Creighton and St. John’s men’s basketball off of the court and effectively canceled its conference tournament, which was being played in Madison Square Garden in Manhattan, New York.

In all, 11 games were held in the MAAC tournament as it didn’t progress past the quarterfinals. Rider women’s basketball played one game on March 11 and the men’s basketball team was scheduled to compete against Niagara at 7 p.m. on March 12.

Ensor especially felt pain for the MAAC’s seniors whose careers were cut short by the cancelation.

“I personally regret having to do this,” Ensor said. “I feel their pain.”

Additional reporting by Dylan Manfre and Stephen Neukam.

This is a developing story.

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