The Wolverine

April 2020

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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APRIL 2020 THE WOLVERINE 9 BY AUSTIN FOX T hursday, March 12, 2020, was one of the most shocking sports days that not only the University of Michigan had ever seen, but the American sports world in general. U-M warmed up to play Rutgers at noon eastern time in Indianapolis in the Big Ten Tournament, but found out 15 minutes before tip-off that the game — and the rest of the league tournament — had been cancelled due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. A domino effect was then set in motion, with every col- lege basketball conference tournament still in action around the country also de- ciding to cancel its contests. Michigan's athletic depart- ment then revealed it had suspended all athletic activi- ties immediately until fur- ther notice, including both practices and games. The Big Ten as a whole then took things a step fur- ther when it announced it would be terminating the rest of its winter and spring sports seasons due to the disease's outbreak. U-M also confirmed it would not be allowing domestic or international air travel until further notice (unless for essential purposes), and would not let any of its athletic coaches conduct off-campus recruiting activities or host prospects for on campus visits. "Today, we took the unprecedented and proactive de- cision to suspend intercollegiate activities to protect the health and well-being of our student-athletes, staff and community members," U-M director of athletics Warde Manuel said. "This decision, reached in collaboration with the Big Ten Conference and campus leaders, was reached after thorough discussion and was necessary given the magnitude of this global issue. "The hard work and dedication of our student-athletes, coaches and staff is a source of inspiration for so many. So, too, will be our response as we confront the spread of this global pandemic. "On behalf of our entire department, I thank the Big Ten Conference, presidents and athletic directors, our head coaches and community partners who have offered input and unwavering support." The cancellations at U-M had begun one day prior when the school announced it was calling off its April 18 spring football game, and contin- ued early March 12 when the football program revealed its March 13 pro day also had been terminated. T h e b i g g e s t n a t i o n a l bombshell was dropped at 4:16 p.m. ET, however, when the NCAA confirmed it had called off all remaining win- ter and spring champion- ships (including its annual NCAA Championships). On March 13, the NCAA announced a temporary re- cruiting dead period in all Division I sports through at least April 15, while Stadi- um's Jeff Goodman reported that players in spring sports were set to get another year of eligibility and the NCAA was still determining what to do with winter athletes. At 19-12 overall and 10-10 in league play, the U-M men's basketball team was viewed as a lock to hear their names called for the Big Dance. This year will mark the first season without an NCAA Tournament since 1938, with the annual event having been created a year later in 1939. "Some things are bigger than basketball," Michigan head coach Juwan Howard wrote on Twitter following the cancellation of the Big Ten Tournament. "This is a global situation, and we need to make sure we follow the guidance and direction of the experts and health officials. "While we are disappointed of not being able to play this event — especially for [senior point guard] Zavier [Simpson] and [senior center] Jon [Teske], we need to stay bonded together during this time. We want everyone to stay safe and take precautions to protect yourselves and loved ones." "We are a Michigan family … forever." ❑ Inside Michigan ATHLETICS U-M And The Big Ten Cancel The Remainder Of Winter And Spring Sports Michigan had taken the court for pre-game warm-ups on March 12, expecting to play Rutgers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis with no fans in the stands, before the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament was cancelled 15 minutes before tip-off. PHOTO BY CHRIS BALAS

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