The Big 12 announced that starting Thursday with the men's and women's Big 12 tournaments, only "limited access" will be granted to the games as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus. This means most fans will not be present at the Sprint Center and Municipal Auditorium from Thursday through Sunday.
Each team will be allocated 125 tickets on a game-by-game basis. They will likely be distributed to guests of the players and staff members of each institution. There will be no pep bands, cheerleaders or dance teams. Both venues will be cleared after each game.
"The attempt is to absolutely minimize the number of people that are here, but still to find a way to conduct the events and actually get the opportunity to play the games," said Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby on Wednesday.
Bowlsby made the announcement only minutes before the national anthem was played prior to the men's first round game between Iowa State and Oklahoma State, the first game of a doubleheader, with fans in attendance at Sprint Center as normal.
"To have to take these steps is painful for everyone that's involved, but these are unusual times," said Bowlsby.
The announcement came on the heels of the news earlier in the day that the NCAA men's and women's basketball championships will be conducted without fans.
"Until today, we have had no one tell us that having a building full of people was ill-advised," said Bowlsby. He said it changed when he heard Anthony Fauci, an immunologist, who said in a news conference that the spread of the coronavirus is going to get worse.
"That isn't me making an assessment. That's the representative of the National Institutes of Health," said Bowlsby.
Greg Echlin is a freelance sports reporter for KCUR 89.3.