Pitt issued a statement on Wednesday canceling in-person classes, replacing them with online coursework, and advising students to return home for the remainder of the spring semester in response to the spread of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. At the time, the school also noted that athletic activities would go on as scheduled, but that decision has since been reversed, as the ACC announced a halt to all athletic-related activities on Thursday afternoon.
“The Atlantic Coast Conference has suspended all athletic-related activities, including all competition, formal and organized practice, recruiting, and participation in NCAA championships until further notice," the ACC statement read. "The decision was made following consultation with the league’s presidents and athletic directors to mitigate the further spread of COVID-19."
The decision will impact Pitt's baseball and softball teams, whose seasons had just recently begun, as well as its wrestling team, which was bound for the NCAA tournament after a second-place finish in the ACC tournament over the weekend. As noted in the ACC's statement, athletic directors were involved in the decision, and Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke issued a statement of her own explaining her rationale.
"This decision was made with one priority in mind -- the health and well-being of our student-athletes," Lyke said. "We are very cognizant of the disappointment that may be felt by our young people who worked and prepared so hard for their seasons. However, this is an unprecedented circumstance, and we must prioritize safety and responsibility in our response to it. The decision to indefinitely suspend all competition, practices and recruiting is one we fully support."
"Our administrators, staff and coaches will remain actively engaged with all of our student-athletes, ensuring their well-being in this time of suspended athletics activity and distance learning," she concluded.
It is unclear when athletic activities will resume at Pitt or elsewhere, as the NBA, NHL, MLB and MLS all suspended their games due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19. In addition, conference basketball tournaments were canceled on Thursday, including the ACC tournament, suggesting the NCAA men's basketball tournament is in jeopardy as well.