Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk arrived in Nashville this week intending to watch the Tigers compete in the annual Southeastern Conference men’s basketball tournament.


That never happened.


Now he and fellow administrators are trying to figure out what — if anything — happens next.


"There is a lot going on and a moving target and things changing by the hour," Sterk admitted Thursday afternoon.


The SEC on Thursday announced the cancellation of the remainder of the tournament at Bridgestone Arena.


Additionally, the league suspended all regular-season competition for teams in all sports on SEC campuses, as well as conference championship events, until March 30, Commissioner Greg Sankey said.


Later Thursday, the NCAA announced the whopper of them all: The Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, as well as all its remaining winter and spring national championships, have been canceled.


"Now it’s dealing with a lot of issues that we weren’t expecting," Sterk told a group of reporters. "We weren’t expecting the (SEC Tournament) to be canceled. We weren’t expecting spring sports to be suspended. But it seemed prudent in light of what was going on at our campuses and across the nation that we made those decisions."


Sankey said the SEC has created an interim period where the league office will work with the 14 member schools on how to eventually return to normalcy.


"It may be March 30, it may be beyond," Sankey said during a news conference Thursday afternoon before the NCAA made its championships announcement.


The moves are based on the latest developments and the continued spread of the novel coronavirus.


Four second-round SEC Tournament games were scheduled to be played Thursday in Nashville, including Missouri’s matchup against Texas A&M. The weekend was to conclude with the championship Sunday afternoon.


Instead, the Tigers and lone senior Reed Nikko finish the season with a record of 15-16, their final game a victory over Alabama this past Saturday.


"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 about canceling the tournament. "While this was not an easy decision, the health and well-being of our entire SEC community is of paramount importance."


Kentucky, the regular-season champion, was awarded the SEC’s automatic bid to the now-canceled NCAA Tournament.


The SEC, which began its tourney Wednesday, was not the only conference to end its marquee winter event after it already started, joining the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, American, MAC, Atlantic-10, Colonial, Conference USA and WAC.


The SEC announced Wednesday night that all league events would be held without fans through March 30, then took things a step further Thursday morning.


"Are we going to be proactive or reactive?" Sankey asked rhetorically Thursday afternoon after referencing how the NBA suspended its season. "Right now, I thought given everything going on right now, we would be proactive."


Eight Missouri wrestlers who qualified for the NCAA Championships next week will no longer get the chance to compete in their season’s pinnacle event.


The same goes for a group of Missouri swimmers and divers who qualified for the national meet and members of the MU gymnastics team who would have competed at nationals.


A contingent of Tigers was set to compete at the indoor track and field national championships this weekend in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but that event was called off as well just one day before it was scheduled to begin.


"Today’s news is really tough to digest, and while I feel for our seniors who will miss their final NCAA Championship, I know this decision is being made with the well-being of our student-athletes as the highest priority," MU wrestling coach Brian Smith said in a statement. "The situation has been fluid and ever-changing, and decisions like this are not easy to make.


"I know our kids are heartbroken, but I know that they understand that this decision was a difficult one and one with their best intentions in mind. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who has been affected by COVID-19."


At least 10 Missouri regular-season baseball games will be postponed, the same amount of regular-season softball games currently suspended. The gymnastics team will not compete Saturday at Georgia as planned. A minimum of six regular-season tennis matches have also been postponed.


Despite the cancellation of national championship events, the SEC could still decide to resume its spring regular seasons and hold conference tournaments, though Missouri softball and baseball are both banned from the postseason this year.


Asked if Missouri’s postseason ban in softball and baseball would carry over into next year with the national championships now canceled, Sterk gave a blunt reply,


"You know how I feel about that," Sterk said Thursday before the NCAA announcement. "But there's no way they should."


Missouri softball coach Larissa Anderson said Thursday that this is an emotional time for all involved in the game.


"Our student-athletes, coaches and staff have spent countless hours preparing for these moments, and sport represents such a large aspect of our lives," Anderson said in a statement. "While I am disappointed in the suspension of our season, I am glad preventative measures are being taken to combat this ever-changing public health threat.


"... Public safety is more important than these events."


The SEC has also suspended on- and off-campus recruiting through March 30, Sankey said.


Sterk said Thursday that Missouri has discussed limited access for its spring football game scheduled for April 11 and that the program would continue practices as planned, as will the Tigers’ other spring sports teams.


Sterk said not only will Missouri suspend games and events within the conference through March 30, but also against nonconference opponents.


"It’s not if but when a student-athlete would be found positive," Sterk said of the virus. "We want to minimize those opportunities and try to help the nation get through this, not continue to spread it everywhere."


USA TODAY contributed to this report.