NASHVILLE — The only people hanging around Bridgestone Arena early Thursday afternoon were the throngs of media that had arrived at the site of the Southeastern Conference men's basketball tournament.
Outside, a couple of disappointed Kentucky fans walked away, with the news that the tournament had been cancelled due to concerns regarding the novel coronavirus.
The league announced its decision with a post to Twitter that read, "Based on the latest developments and the continued spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Southeastern Conference today announced the cancellation of the remainder of the 2020 Men's Basketball Tournament in Nashville."
The Big Ten and American Athletic conferences were the first to announce they were canceling their tournaments Thursday, and the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big 12 and Pac-12 all followed suit after the SEC made its announcement.
The Volunteers entered the tournament with a 17-14 record. Their lone likely path to the NCAA tournament — which is still scheduled to happen, although fans won't be allowed to attend — has now been shut off. It's still possible that if the National Invitation Tournament were to be played, the Vols will be invited.
If that doesn't happen, it will mean an anticlimactic end to the career of the Vols' lone senior on the active roster, Jordan Bowden. He entered Thursday's game with 1,365 points, which ranks 24th on Tennessee's all-time scoring list and is seventh on the Vols' career 3-point list with 186.