A lot can change in 24 hours, as MAC officials learned today. Less than a day after announcing the MAC tournament would go on as scheduled, the conference turned face Tuesday afternoon, announcing attendence for the event will be “restricted.”
“Following consultation with Ohio governmental and public health officials, and at the recommendation of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, the Mid-American Conference Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments will be played, however a restricted attendance policy will be implemented at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse this week,” the conference anounced via press release Tuesday evening.
The tournament will continue as scheduled, but only credentialed institutional personnel and media, family of student-athletes, and official team party members will be allowed to attend.
In other words, the MAC will not be open to the general public.
“The safety of all is our greatest concern,” said MAC commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher. “Since January, I have stated that any decision would follow the advice of state governmental officials and medical professionals. Following the feedback we received today we have taken this action which is in alignment with the recommendation of [Ohio Governor Mike] DeWine.”
DeWine declared a state of emergency on Monday night after three confirmed cases cropped up in Cuyahoga County, whose biggest city is Cleveland. Several of Ohio’s state universities announced a suspension of operations as of publication time, including all six of the MAC schools based in Ohio.
The situation the MAC faces is not unique; the Ivy League cancelled their tournament earlier Tuesday, declaring their regular season champions as NCAA tournament representatives. The NCAA also has its hands full in regards to March Madness, as the First Four is traditionally hosted in Dayton, Ohio, and the first two rounds of the tournament will be held at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, where the MAC hosts its postseason tournament.
The MAC tournament is expected to start up on Wednesday morning with the women’s basketball quarterfinals, and extend out to the weekend, concluding with the men’s championship game.
Anyone who bought tickets to the event can receive a refund in the form of credit for the 2021 MAC tournament or a full refund, and will be emailed shortly referring to the next steps. Beginning Wednesday during regular business hours, fans can contact their respective athletic departments or the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse box office at (216) 420-2200.