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LSU head coach Paul Mainieri in the dugout before first pitch against South Alabama, Wednesday, March 11, 2020, at LSU's Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge, La.

The Southeastern Conference has suspended all regular season competition for all athletic events, SEC championship events, plus on and off-campus recruiting, until March 30 due to concerns of the spreading coronavirus, league commissioner Greg Sankey announced Thursday.

The news came within an hour of the league's announcement that it was canceling the SEC basketball tournament in Nashville. 

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"We understand that this decision will be disappointing to our student-athletes and coaches who have been preparing all season to compete in this event as well as viewers at home," Sankey said in a statement. "While this was not an easy decision, the health and well-being of our entire SEC community is of paramount importance."

LSU began spring football on Saturday, and in the upcoming weekend, the school's baseball, beach volleyball, gymnastics, softball, tennis, and track & field programs all had events scheduled.

In gymnastics, No. 5 LSU was scheduled to host Arizona State on Friday at 7:30 p.m., the final event before the SEC championship in Duluth, Georgia, on March 21.

LSU's football spring game is scheduled for April 18 at A.W. Mumford Stadium on Southern's campus.

Spring football is not included in the SEC suspension of events, an LSU official said, since it is a series of practices. It is within the discretion of individual athletic programs to decide whether they will continue to practice amid coronavirus concerns.

The football program announced Thursday afternoon that its Junior Day recruiting weekend, scheduled for Saturday, will be rescheduled for a later date.

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The LSU baseball players were still in Baton Rouge, about to board the bus for Oxford, Mississippi, for a three-game series against Ole Miss, before the news of conference-wide cancellations broke.

The players were told to grab their bags off the bus, then move into the locker room for a team meeting.

"Wild, man," infielder Hal Hughes said as he walked toward the locker room holding a pillow.

The baseball team emerged from the meeting and left the facility. LSU coach Paul Mainieri sent the players home. He said the team will practice in the weeks ahead as it waits to resume the season, but for now, he needed a day to form a plan.

"It's the craziest time of my life, certainly in my professional life," Mainieri said. "I wish I had a lot of answers to give to you all. You all know as much as I do. All I know is we're not going to Oxford today, and we're not going to play baseball for the next three weeks at least. There's been a moratorium on any sporting events in the SEC through March 30, perhaps longer. Who knows?"

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Louisiana reported 14 cases of coronavirus, and officials said they expect that number to increase.

The NBA announced Wednesday night that it was suspending its season, and it called off the New Orleans Pelicans' game against the Sacremento Kings just before tip-off.

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This is a developing story. More details to come.


Email Brooks Kubena at bkubena@theadvocate.com.