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Governing body cancels winter championships and suspends spring sports indefinitely as women's basketball team prepares for Sweet 16 appearance Friday

GRAPHIC FILE PHOTO - The George Fox women's basketball was poised to take on Amherst College in Boston in the Sweet 16 round of the Division III national championships when the NCAA announced Thursday afternoon that it was cancelling all winter sports championships and suspending play for spring sports.

The George Fox women's basketball team advanced to the Sweet 16 via a surprising pair of wins over ranked opponents last week, but neither the Bruins or any team at any level will go forward after the NCAA announced Thursday afternoon that it was cancelling all winter and spring sport championships in response to the growing threat from the COVID-19 coronavirus.

"NCAA President Mark Emmert and the board of governors canceled … men's and women's 2020 basketball tournaments, as well as all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships," a statement from the NCAA said. "This decision is base on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to the spread of the pandemic and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities."GRAPHIC FILE PHOTO - The 7-2 George Fox baseball team, owners of first place in the Northwest Conference, saw their promising 2020 season thwarted by Thursday's announcement that all spring sports would be suspended until further notice.

Those other entities include the NBA, which suspended the season after two players testified positive for the virus, as well as the season suspensions by the NHL and Major League Baseball.

The news came as the Bruins were preparing to face No. 6-ranked Amherst Friday evening in Boston in the Sweet 16 round of games at the Division III level. Unranked George Fox advanced to face the Mammoths via wins over Montclair State and Marymount in the first two rounds of the tournament in Virginia. The wins represented the team's first Sweet 16 run since 2016 with a 23-6 overall record and a Northwest Conference championship in the coach Mike Coppolino's first season.

The NCAA decision doesn't just affect the GFU women's basketball team. Bruin swimmer Aspen Monkhouse was poised to complete in the DIII national championships in the 50-meter freestyle, while indoor track athletes Kennedy Taube and Cameron Seymour were going to chase national titles in the sprints.

In addition, the Northwest Conference announced Thursday afternoon it was suspending all spring sport competitions as well as NWC championships until further notice.

"This decision has been made in consultation with our president council and member institutions in an effort to limit the spread of the virus and in the interest of the health and safety of our student-athletes, campus personal, working and event personnel and all those who attend Northwest Conference events," the organization said in a prepared statement.

The NWC's decision means the George Fox baseball, track and field, tennis, lacrosse and softball teams will see there seasons suspended indefinitely as well.

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