The NCAA has established an advisory panel in response to the outbreak of the coronavirus in the United States, but still plans to conduct its championships as planned. That includes the highly anticipated men’s basketball tournament later this month.
The panel, which includes medical, security professionals and student-athlete liaisons, will be led by Dr. Brian Hainline, the NCAA’s chief medical officer. Donald Remy, the NCAA’s chief operating officer, said in a statement that the governing body will continue to evaluate the situation on a daily basis and will “make decisions accordingly.”
“The NCAA is committed to conducting its championships and events in a safe and responsible manner,” Remy said. “Today we are planning to conduct our championships as planned, however, we are evaluating the COVID-19 situation daily and will make decisions accordingly.
“The NCAA will make decisions that are first and foremost reflective of medical best practices and keeps the health and safety of student-athletes, administrators and fans as the number one priority.”
Added Hainline: “We are actively monitoring COVID-19 in the United States and will make recommendations on competition based on the evolving medical protocols established by the CDC, NIH and state and local authorities. We are in daily contact with the CDC and are advising leadership on the Association’s response to this outbreak.”
Hainline said the panel will meet regularly to assist the NCAA in the coming weeks.
An NCAA spokesman told Yahoo Sports last week the NCAA sent memos to its members directing “schools and conference offices to Center for Disease Control and Prevention resources.”
“NCAA staff continues to prepare for all NCAA winter and spring championships, but we are keenly aware of coronavirus and will continue to monitor in coordination with state/local health authorities and the CDC,” the spokesman said.
March Madness games scheduled for Washington
This strain of coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has accounted for more than 100 known cases in the United States, including nine deaths. All nine deaths have occurred in the state of Washington.
Spokane, Washington, is slated to serve as one of the host sites for the first and second rounds of the men's tournament.
The men's tournament is scheduled to begin with the First Four in Dayton, Ohio, on March 17 before first and second round matchups begin on March 19. Games played in Spokane are scheduled for March 19 and March 21.
The women's tournament is scheduled to start on March 20.
Group: NCAA should consider March Madness without fans
Last week, the National College Players Association voiced its concerns over the NCAA’s response to the coronavirus and called for the Association to do all it can to protect college athletes — even if it means holding March Madness in empty arenas as a preventative measure.
The NCPA also called for the NCAA to be transparent with the actions it is taking in response to the outbreak.
“In regard to the NCAA’s March Madness Tournament and other athletic events, there should also be a serious discussion about holding competitions without an audience present. Google just cancelled a summit in California and Amazon is encouraging its employees to avoid all nonessential travel because of coronavirus concerns. The NCAA and its colleges must act now, there is no time to waste,” the NCPA said Feb. 29.
Chicago State cancels games in Seattle and Utah
Worries over the coronavirus in the state of Washington have already started impacting games. Chicago State informed its conference that it would not play road games against Seattle and Utah Valley this week, according to Stadium’s Jeff Goodman.
Chicago State has informed the WAC that its men’s basketball team will not play its road games against Seattle University on Thurs. & Utah Valley on Sat. due to the Coronavirus threat, sources told @Stadium. There have been 9 deaths due to the Coronavirus in the Seattle area.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) March 4, 2020
Atlantic 10 suspends handshakes at conference tournament
When the Atlantic 10 holds its men’s and women’s conference tournaments this month, it won’t allow players to shake hands before or after the games in an effort to curtail the coronavirus.
Instead, it will use “forearm bumps.”
"The league is in communication with its member institutions, medical personnel, competition venues and media partners," the conference said in a statement, via CBS Sports. "The A-10 will continue to update its members throughout championship season and reminds student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans to be diligent in following the recommended health and safety precautions to prevent the spread of coronavirus."
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