Mid-American Conference

The floor and seating area at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland is empty shortly following the announcement that the Mid-American Conference cancelled the remainder of its 2020 Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments on March 12. The conference announced on Tuesday the elimination or alteration to some of its conference tournaments due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Mid-American Conference announced changes for the upcoming academic year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The MAC has eliminated conference tournaments in eight sports, and changed the formats in nine other conference tournaments.

The MAC will not hold conference tournaments for field hockey, men’s soccer, women’s soccer, men’s tennis, women’s tennis, women’s lacrosse, softball and baseball.

Those changes will impact Ohio University in field hockey, women’s soccer, softball and baseball.

The regular season champion in those sports will compete in the NCAA Tournaments.

“Every student-athlete will compete for a conference championship and earn an opportunity for participation in NCAA postseason competition,” the conference said in a press release issued by Ken Mather, Assistant Commissioner/Media & Public Relations. “MAC member institutions will continue to operate consistent with NCAA Division I FBS regulations.”

The conference was forced to make the move because of the financial crisis of COVID-19. The entire spring sports season was canceled back in March and OU’s facilities have been closed ever since.

There were changes in the formats for postseason tournaments in volleyball (four-team), men’s basketball (eight-team), women’s basketball (eight-team), men’s swimming & diving (three-day), women’s swimming & diving (three-day), men’s indoor and outdoor track & field (two-day), women’s indoor and outdoor track & field (two-day), men’s golf (two-day) and women’s golf (two-day).

Most notably is the elimination of the opening-round games of the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. Instead of having seeds four through eight host seeds nine through 12 on campus sites, the top eight teams will now advance directly to the MAC Tournament in Cleveland. The bottom four teams in the league will see their seasons end upon conclusion of the regular season.

Last season, the men’s basketball team received the No. 8 seed, winning the race to host a first-round MAC Tournament game. The Bobcats trounced No. 9 Central Michigan, 85-65, as the team was able to play in front of the Convocation Center fans one final time.

{span style=”font-size: 12px ”}The men’s and women’s basketball regular seasons will also be expanded from 18 to 20 conference games. {/span}

Baseball and softball will also expand to 30-game regular season schedules.

The MAC’s statement said that the conference established a working group “to explore efficiencies in sports operations across its 24 sponsored sports. The focus was on reducing costs in alignment with institutional mandates, consistent with institutional priorities and principles of equity and diversity.”

The plan released on Tuesday will cover four years, and will be evaluated as the economy improves.

Email at kwiseman@athensmessenger.com; follow on Twitter @KevinWmessenger

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