AAC cancels all remaining spring sports amid COVID-19 pandemic

The AAC has canceled all spring competition and championships as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the conference announced Monday afternoon, officially ending the seasons for USF baseball; softball; men’s golf; women’s golf; track and field; sailing; men’s tennis; and women’s tennis.

Additionally, the conference announced that all members have stopped practicing for the remainder of the academic year, likely ending USF football’s spring after only one practice, though the Tampa Bay Times later reported USF is leaving the door open to return to football practice if conditions become “reasonable and prudent.” USF had already announced the spring football game would not take place on April 18 as originally scheduled.

“The decision to cancel all spring athletic seasons and cease practices conference wide was not an easy one, but it is prudent, appropriate and fully supported by USF,” Vice President of Athletics Michael Kelly said in a statement. “The health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches and community as well as the interest of the greater good is priority number one. We will continue to support our student-athletes and staff to our fullest ability and make adjustments until such time as we can begin to return to more normal operations.”

Fans with tickets to affected games are automatically being refunded to the payment of purchase, according to a USF release.

The move from the conference comes hours after UConn became the first AAC member to announce that it was canceling all of its remaining competitions.

The AAC joins several other conferences, including the Pac-12 and Conference USA, who have already announced cancelations, while some leagues, like the SEC, simply remain suspended. The NCAA had already announced it was canceling all of its remaining winter and spring championships, including its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, late last week.

The NCAA’s Division I Council Coordination Committee on Friday announced it believes eligibility relief is appropriate for all athletes that competed in spring sports this year, with exact details to be worked out at a later date. It did not make any recommendation for winter sports, which includes basketball, at the time.

The AAC’s cancelations come the day after the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that gatherings of 50 or more people be postponed or canceled for the next eight weeks, which lasts until May 10. Only three regular season events — a three-game baseball series at East Carolina — remained on the USF Athletics calendar after that date.

The announcement also came virtually simultaneously with President Donald Trump issuing new recommendations for preventing the spread of COVID-19, which included avoiding gathering in groups of more than 10 people and avoiding unnecessary travel.

As of Monday afternoon, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, is more than 3,400 in the U.S. with 68 deaths, according to the CDC. Florida makes up 155 of those cases, with nine in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties alone, according to the Florida Department of Health.