BROOKLYN, NY -- The Atlantic 10 Conference Basketball Tournament was canceled Thursday, moments before the VCU Rams tipped off against UMASS.
As the players gathered in a huddle following warmups, a simple and direct message came over the PA system.
"Ladies and gentlemen, please be advised that the remainder of the A10 tournament has been canceled. Please arrive home safely."
When conference officials met Wednesday night to talk about limiting fans from their games, there was no talk of erasing the entire tournament, although it was understood to be a possibility.
Things move just that quickly.
The A-10's move came as several college tournaments were canceled out of caution due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
"You always hate to have to pull people off the court," Thorr Bjorn, the Athletic Director at Rhode Island and the chairman of A10 Athletic Directors, said. "We were trying to see if we could get the games off, but at the end of the day I think the right decision was made."
"Your responsibility as a coach is to keep your players healthy and safe," VCU head coach Mike Rhoades added. "As a coach, you want to win every game, but this was a decision that had to be made and it's the right decision."
By virtue of their regular season title, the Dayton Flyers will be the A10 champions and receive the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, if that is played at all.
For VCU however, their season came to a sudden and surprising end on the court at the Barclay's Center.
Rhoades made a point of hugging his seniors a little more as they lingered on the court not wanting any of it to end.
"There weren't any dry eyes in our locker room afterwards," Rhoades said. "I told them probably what my mom would say to me: 'Sometimes life is just not fair and you have to deal with it.' When the seniors sat down in the locker room and realized they weren't putting the uniform back on, that was tough."
The Rams season will end at 18-13. VCU was scheduled to arrive back in Richmond Thursday night.
The University of Richmond was scheduled to play Friday at 6 p.m.