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ACC Tournament shutters: Uncertainty about next steps

acc tournamentIn a surreal scene on another unfathomable day, the ACC decided to continue play in the 2020 ACC Tournament, then reversed course a few minutes before the scheduled tip-off between #4 Florida State and Clemson.

Both teams had gone through pregame warmups, school bands and cheerleaders were on the floor, and the FSU team was actually back out on the floor with roughly 20 minutes left on the scoreboard clock counting down to the tip, when a member of the coaching staff directed the team back to the locker room.

This came roughly five minutes after word had gotten to media members and others courtside that the SEC, Big Ten and AAC had each decided to shutter their tournaments as precautions against the novel coronavirus, which has led to the suspension of the NBA season, in a stunning announcement made last night.

The teams and coaches Leonard Hamilton and Brad Brownell gathered in a hallway just off the playing surface with ACC Commissioner John Swofford, and minutes later an email from the ACC office confirmed what those in the arena had been suspecting since the FSU team’s abrupt departure from its layup line.

Then, we get this statement from the ACC:

“Following additional consultation with the league’s presidents and athletic directors, and in light of the continued conversations surrounding the fluidity of COVID-19, the Atlantic Coast Conference will immediately cancel the remainder of the 2020 ACC Tournament. For NCAA Tournament automatic qualification purposes, Florida State will represent the league as the ACC Champion. We are disappointed for our student-athletes, schools and fans to have to make this decision; however, the overall health and safety of all involved is the priority.”

In another surreal scene, Commissioner John Swofford presented the ACC Tournament trophy to the Florida State team, declaring FSU the conference’s automatic qualifier, for NCAA Tournament purposes, “if there is an NCAA Tournament,” as Swofford noted.

And then, that was it.

Story by Chris Graham