By KEITH TAYLOR, Kentucky Today
The arenas playing host to the Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference tournaments will be mostly empty for the rest of the week.
Both leagues announced Wednesday that the remainder of their conference tournaments will be played but without fans because of coronavirus concerns.
The SEC officials said it will conduct the tournament with “only essential staff, limited family and credentialed media” and fans will not permitted to attend games beginning Thursday. The ACC has said essentially the same for its postseason tournament which started Wednesday as well.
Earlier Wednesday, the NCAA announced that fans would not be permitted to attend the upcoming NCAA Tournament because of ongoing coronavirus concerns.
Top-seed Kentucky opens play in the tournament at 1 p.m. Friday against the winner of the Alabama-Tennessee contest at Bridgestone Arena. Those teams play Thursday.
“I understand how much this tournament means to our fans, especially those who can’t get tickets to Rupp Arena,” said Kentucky coach John Calipari. “Our team is saddened you can’t be in the building with us.”
Calipari said the “health and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and #BBN must take priority. I know our fan base will show support for these kids through other means.”
He said the UK staff has been in constant contact with the SEC office. “I know this decision by our league did not come lightly.”
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Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter @keithtaylor21.