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March 12, 2020

Michael Aresco

Fort Worth, Texas

THE MODERATOR: Thank you all for being here. There is a lot going on. We're in a state of fluidity right now, but we appreciate you being here. We have Commissioner Mike Aresco here to answer any and all of your questions.

MIKE ARESCO: Thank you, Bernie. I really don't have a statement. You all know what we have done and what our position is, but I'd be happy to take any questions you might have.

Q. What was the timeline like in terms of your reactivity to how the NBA and how some of the other conference tournaments were handling this last night into this morning.
MIKE ARESCO: We met this morning, and we knew we were up against a time constraint and we knew that our players -- student-athletes would be taking the court in a matter of a few hours and we were aware that other conferences were meeting and considering this, but we felt that whatever decision we made would have to be the right decision from our standpoint.

We're not concerned with what other conferences were going to do. And when we made the decision, I guess, from what I understand, no other conference had actually made a final decision, but somebody said, Did you want to go first? And I said I wasn't concerned with what other conferences were doing. We simply wanted to do the right thing and in a timely manner, and we also wanted to, obviously, talk to our leadership on our board and our EDs. And we were able to do that and we were able to ultimately decide that to protect our student-athletes was our highest priority, and we felt there was no way that we could defend, you know, playing the games. You hate to have them miss an opportunity like this to play in a tournament like this and in this beautiful arena. You hate that. But you realize that your first priority is always the health and safety and well-being of your student-athletes, and that was our primary concern and we felt that, again, we were up against, you know, a tough timeline.

And we ultimately made the decision to cancel the tournament, and now we understand a lot of other conferences have done that and we're not surprised. We suspected that that might happen. And, again, I was asked earlier what will the NCAA do next week, and I have no idea and it's not for me to comment.

Q. Was there unanimous approval for all of this? In the discussions you had this morning, was there anyone else who said that we should continue or was there unanimous support for this decision?
MIKE ARESCO: It's our decision. It's my decision along with our board chair, and ultimately the Commissioner has to make that call along with our board chair. And we alerted, you know, everyone and we certainly alerted, you know, we told Matt Holman what we were doing, and he is the general manager of the arena here and he was in agreement. He was aligned with what we did. But it's our decision. Sometimes you have to make, you know -- again, last night we decided to play, to have the tournament without fans and that was a hard decision. This morning, in view of what happened with the NBA, and in view of the progressive nature of this virus and the pandemic nature and the fact that the curve is still unfortunately going up and the fact that you could have a situation where, you know, evidence showed up afterwards of a student-athlete having this and a lot of other student-athletes could potentially be exposed, we felt the risk was not worth it in view of what we were dealing with so we ultimately made that decision.

Q. Mike, what is your connection with the rest of the member institutions and the talks with the other athletic directors about other sports as we see other schools starting to cancel their entire spring sports season.
MIKE ARESCO: That is a good question. We have been meeting with our athletic directors. It runs out we had an athletic directors meeting scheduled for this morning, and that's why it was fortuitous that we had our AD leadership in the room. And we also were planning a meeting later this afternoon. We decided to move that up, and so we've had some meetings. They're still ongoing. That's the primary discussion right now, is what we are going to do with our spring competitions, both conference and non-conference and our championships. And we'll have some word probably by mid-afternoon as to what we're going to do with those.

I'm not at liberty to say right now, but we will have a position on it and our schools will make a decision. And it will be a conference decision, it has to be. You can't have some schools playing conference games and others not. Also, we wanted to make a decision that either would be conference or all-inclusive, all competitions, non-conference and championships. And we'll make that decision and we'll have something for you some time, I think, this afternoon.

Q. For Cincinnati, getting the auto bid, it seems trivial and we don't know what is going to happen over the course of the weekend, but was there any, was that a fairly short discussion about Cincinnati getting the auto bid if there is an NCAA tournament played?
MIKE ARESCO: It was not really part of the discussion at this point. Obviously, as aside you think about these things, but the focus was what should we do. Again, it comes down to, you know, the student-athletes look forward to this conference tournament, it was going to be a really terrific intense tournament, but in the end, we felt that after everything that's happened and the risks, it was not worth doing it, and the health and safety of our student-athletes was absolutely paramount; that the other things just didn't matter and that'll get sorted out. Again, we don't know what the NCAA situation is, but it will get sorted out.

Q. There's so much uncertainty, but do you have any discussions with people about the potential of something like this being made up or, you know, like, postponed, trying to get into the NCAA tournament. Do you think there is a way down the road that that could happen at a later date?
MIKE ARESCO: Doesn't seem like it. If the NCAA were to postpone, then perhaps, but I really don't think it would probably be feasible, you know. The logistics would be awfully difficult to do something like that. That's why we felt that postponements even of our spring sports would really not be likely because, you know, you are up against NCAA timelines.

So I really don't see that happening. Is there some remote possibility that the NCAA decides to postpone the tournament? I have no idea what they want to do, or I'm not going to suggest what they might do. Could we come back and do it? I really doubt that that is feasible.

Q. Any concern amongst people, or any of the teams, that were here about any necessary testing? Do you guys leave that up to them individually? Is there any type of conference mandate?
MIKE ARESCO: We would leave that up to the individual institutions. The staff here have been terrific. The concern wasn't just our student-athletes, our players, and coaches, it was also the staff here, you know, the credentialed media, you, others who would be here, everyone involved with our tournament was the concern today.

And in terms of that kind of thing, that would be up to the schools and we just -- we hope obviously everybody does -- I don't want to sound trite that we don't have a case because obviously then people would potentially have been exposed. Thanks, everyone. Thanks again for your support of the tournament and again safe travels and stay safe and stay healthy. Really stay healthy. Thank you.

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