COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The coronavirus is now changing the landscape of college basketball.
All major conference basketball tournaments have been canceled, including the SEC men’s tournament and the NCAA men’s and women’s championship tournaments.
"It is kind of disappointing for us Carolina fans out here," said a UofSC student.
The South Carolina men’s basketball team was set to take on Arkansas Thursday, beginning its quest for an SEC tournament championship and a bid to the NCAA tournament.
Now, all the Gamecocks are left with is what could have been.
"It’s kind of a mixed bag of emotions,” said Gamecocks head coach Frank Martin. “You’re disappointed for your team and your players because it’s a six-month process every day to prepare for this time of year and, all of a sudden, you realize it’s not gonna happen.”
Coach Martin says he feels for his seniors, who may have played their last game in a Gamecock uniform.
"They left it on the court and this is their last opportunity to play in the month of March and they don't get that back,” Martin said, “so your heart goes out to them."
Despite the sudden end to this season, Martin is looking at the news as a teachable moment that will have a lasting impact on the players’ lives off the court.
"Especially in today's day and age with social media and individual popularity," said Martin. "they get wrapped up into the sport a little too much sometimes and they don't realize that there is other things that may be a little bit more important than whatever sport they are playing or their individual popularity through the sport."
Gamecocks’ women’s head basketball coach Dawn Staley also issued a statement regarding the cancelations on Thursday. You can read more on that by clicking here.