BROOKLYN, NY - Late Wednesday night amid a swell of national caution over the COVID-19 Coronavirus, the Atlantic 10 conference made the decision to continue their men's basketball tournament at the Barclay's Center, but without allowing fans into the arena.
A statement from the A-10 read, in part: "Beginning [Thursday] all remaining games in the championship will be restricted to teams, network television, working media, essential personnel and team affiliated fans and guests."
Nearly every major college tournament took similar actions on Wednesday, underlining the continuing focus on the spread of the Coronavirus. But that action was too late for a group of VCU fans who already made the trip to Brooklyn.
"It was kind of a disappointment" said longtime VCU fan Bob Waldrop. "We bought train tickets, we changed plane fares to be here. It's not great."
"What really disappointed us was the A-10 management" added fellow fan John Sankey. "They waited until everyone got here and then cancelled the fans. It just doesn't make a lot of sense. I think they should have acted a lot sooner."
The A-10 played two games Wednesday afternoon with fans in attendance. Commissioner Bernadette McGlade and her staff met Wednesday night after the games were over and made the determination to exclude the general public from the remainder of the tournament.
Even through their disappointment, these VCU fans can understand the caution.
"I understand why they're taking these actions" Waldrop added. "I don't understand why they waited until we got here. They had the opportunity to make this decision [earlier]. The Coronavirus has been going around for 2 months? Enough said."
The group was making plans late Wednesday night to return to Richmond on Thursday. Ticket reimbursement information was incomplete as of late Wednesday night.
Even with their disappointment, the group has already made their plans to come back to Brooklyn for next year's tournament.
"We've got 24 tickets booked for next year" Waldrop added. "We're basketball fanatics."