Northwestern softball during their 2019 season. Many Wildcat teams had their campaigns canceled on Thursday. Photo by Jacob Munoz / North By Northwestern

In what may be the most shocking news in American college sports history, on Thursday the NCAA decided to cancel all of its winter and spring tournaments for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year, invoking concern over the COVID-19 pandemic that has infected over 100,000 people worldwide and caused over 4,000 deaths.

The Big Ten also released a statement saying that, in addition to ending the ongoing Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament, both conference and non-conference sporting events would be cancelled.

These updates mean that Northwestern sports programs currently competing in postseason (e.g. women's basketball, wrestling) and regular season play (e.g. baseball, lacrosse) are all ending.

On Wednesday the NCAA had said it would have its popular Division 1 Men's Basketball Tournament go on without fans due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus. As professional American sports leagues such as the NBA and NHL have suspended their seasons, the NCAA has decided to go a step further and outright cancel future competition.

Concern about the increased risk of contracting COVID-19 from large public gatherings and events has also led colleges across the country to switch from in-person to online classes, with some asking students not to remain on campus.

Northwestern will be extending its upcoming spring break an additional week, while switching to online classes for at least the first three weeks of spring quarter. Students who do not leave the Evanston campus will be allowed to stay, as residential halls and dining halls will be available.