The Ohio High School Athletic Association has suspended all winter sports tournaments, effectively immediately, in response to the COVID-19 virus emergency.

Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass made the announcement around 12:40 p.m. Thursday at St. John Arena, shortly before the start of Beloit West Branch's Division II state semifinal girls basketball game against Dayton Carroll.

"This is undoubtedly one of the toughest days in my career," Snodgrass said.

The remainder of the girls state tournament, the boys regional tournaments and the state ice hockey and wrestling tournaments have been postponed indefinitely. The decision was made, Snodgrass said, literally moments before "because of what's transpiring across the nation."

"We say they are postponed indefinitely and I don't want to say 'canceled,' but it's on the table," Snodgrass said.

Snodgrass noted the increasingly fast developing scenarios around the country. Since Wednesday night, the NBA and Major League Soccer suspended operations. Several college conference basketball tournaments, including the Big Ten, were canceled.

"The spread of this [virus] has increased dramatically in large gatherings," Snodgrass said. "Just in wrestling alone, we are talking about 630 participants."

Snodgrass said he is especially emotional for the young athletes who won't be able to finish their season, but "their health, and the health of their families are the greater concern."

At St. John Arena, both West Branch and Dayton Carroll players were on the floor for warmups when Snodgrass emerged from a room and gathered both teams' coaches and a few OHSAA staff. They met for just a few minutes behind closed doors then the players walked off the floor to their respective locker rooms.

"There is more value in these tournaments than wins and losses," Snodgrass said. "I know how much they have invested in this. That's part … of why it's so emotional for me. We [the OHSAA] live this through the kids that play, but there is a greater, national concern here."