Fred Hoiberg’s illness swayed Kevin Warren, but commissioner would have canceled Big Ten Tournament, anyway

first_imgINDIANAPOLIS — Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren told the assembled media Thursday morning at Bankers Life Fieldhouse — about the only remnants of the canceled 2020 Big Ten Tournament — the sight of visibly ill Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg on the Huskers bench the night before did impact his decision to abandon the league’s men’s basketball championship event.”The answer is yes, quite naturally, when it happens in your environment,” Warren said. “But that was one piece of the decision-making process. I feel confidence that I would have come to the same decision this morning with or without that. “That was an element of it, but it was so much bigger than that. I think the biggest thing for me was to make sure that we had time.”MORE: Tracking coronavirus cancellations in sportsWarren indicated he did not want to rush such a consequential decision, to abandon the tournament because of concern about the COVID-19 virus, and thus consulted university presidents and chancellors and athletic administrators from the 14 member institutions before coming to this decision. He also placed a brief phone call to NCAA president Mark Emmert to inform him of his decision, although he got no sense whether Emmert would take similar action regarding the NCAA Tournament.As a result, the players for Michigan and Rutgers briefly warmed up in advance of their scheduled noon tip before being ordered off the court and informed they would not play.The Big Ten had determined Wednesday to play the tournament with no spectators aside from family members and the media, after the NCAA had announced it would contest the 2020 edition of March Madness under similar parameters.Wednesday’s first-round doubleheader went on as scheduled, with fans watching Minnesota defeat Northwestern and then Indiana beat Nebraska.In the latter game, though, Hoiberg was in obvious distress and left before the finish, then was taken to the hospital to be examined. After it was determined he was not ill with the coronavirus, the decision was made to go ahead with Thursday’s four second-round games. Warren said to his knowledge no one affiliated with the tournament has tested positive for coronavirus.So what changed?“I don’t think anything changed. Quite naturally, this is something I have been evaluating over the last six weeks,” Warren said. “One of the great things that we did, some time a week or so ago, we formed a Big Ten infectious disease committee. We have 14 incredible academic institutions. One of the things I want to make sure that I do is rely on the information and guidance from individuals in our conference and also is just to make sure we’re thinking about what’s best for our student-athletes.” Warren said it bothered him, when asking questions about how best to cope with this threat, to hear the same response so many times about what might be next.“I think the biggest thing is the uncertainty. I’m a big believer in asking a lot of questions, gathering information and making decisions based on the best information that I have,” Warren said. “And this was one of those situations that a lot of people were telling me, ‘I don’t know.’ And I get concerned when I hear ‘I don’t know a few too many times.’ I want to make sure I don’t have any regrets and I want to make sure, as a conference, we do the right things. Because if something had gone awry here, I don’t want to be in a position, looking back, saying, ‘If only we would have canceled this tournament.’“I know we all love college athletics. We all love basketball, men’s and women’s basketball. This is a great time of the year. It’s part of the fabric of our country. These are not easy decisions.”last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *