NCAA establishes coronavirus advisory panel, plans to hold tournaments 'as planned'

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.”

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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. 

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Tokyo prepares for 2020 Olympics as coronavirus spreads
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Tokyo prepares for 2020 Olympics as coronavirus spreads
A man looks at an Olympic rings display installed off the shore of the Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo on February 28, 2020. - The International Olympic Committee is "committed" to holding the 2020 Games in Tokyo as planned despite the widening new coronavirus outbreak, the body's president has pledged. (Photo by Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP) (Photo by KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - FEBRUARY 26: A woman wearing a face mask walks past the Olympic rings in front of the new National Stadium, the main stadium for the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, on February 26, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. Concerns that the Tokyo Olympics may be postponed or cancelled are increasing as Japan confirms 862 cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and as some professional sporting contests are being called off or rescheduled and some major Japanese corporations ask for people to work from home. (Photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - JANUARY 24: Fireworks explode as Olympic rings are illuminated for the first time to mark 6 months to go to the Olympic games at Odaiba Marine Park on January 24, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by David Mareuil/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
The New National Stadium, a venue for the opening and closing ceremonies at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, is seen from Shibuya Sky observation deck in Tokyo, Tuesday, March 3, 2020. The Japanese government has indicated it sees the next couple of weeks as crucial to containing the spread of COVID-19, which began in China late last year. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Tourists take pictures of the Olympics rings Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, in the Odaiba section of Tokyo. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
People wait in line to take pictures with the Olympic rings near the New National Stadium, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
A woman removes her mask before taking pictures with the mascots of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo, Feb. 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach delivers a statement on the COVID-19 situation during a meeting of the executive board at the IOC headquarters in Lausanne on March 3, 2020. - The COVID-19 which has already killed more than 3000 people in the World will be at the center of a meeting of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on March 3 and 4, 2020 in Lausanne less than five months before the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Tokyo. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP) (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)
A cameraman films the Olympic Rings at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) headquarters in Lausanne on March 3, 2020. - The COVID-19 which has already killed more than 3000 people in the World will be at the center of a meeting of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on March 3 and 4, 2020 in Lausanne less than five months before the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Tokyo. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP) (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - MARCH 01: A security guard wearing a face mask guards a road near the route of the Tokyo Marathon on March 1, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. The 2020 Tokyo Marathon has been restricted to elite runners only as measures get underway in Japan to combat the Covid-19 virus. A growing number of events and sporting fixtures have been cancelled or postponed while some businesses are closing or asking their employees to work from home. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has also asked schools to close for around a month from tomorrow as coronavirus cases increase and concerns mount over the effect the outbreak will have on the Tokyo Olympics. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
This photo taken on February 29, 2020 shows a protester holding placards during a demonstration against the Olympics, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and nuclear energy, near the "J-Village" which will host the start of the Olympic torch relay in Naraha, Fukushima prefecture. - Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto said on February 26 the torch relay scheduled to begin March 26 in Fukushima and travel across the country would not be cancelled, though he acknowledged adjustments might be necessary, due to the COVID-19 outbreak. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)
This photo taken on February 29, 2020 shows a woman holding a placard during a demonstration against the Olympics, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and nuclear energy, near the "J-Village" which will host the start of the Olympic torch relay in Naraha, Fukushima prefecture. - Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto said on February 26 the torch relay scheduled to begin March 26 in Fukushima and travel across the country would not be cancelled, though he acknowledged adjustments might be necessary, due to the COVID-19 outbreak. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)
A masked security guard stands in front an entrance of the National Stadium, venue of the upcoming Olympics, in Tokyo on February 28, 2020. - The International Olympic Committee is "committed" to holding the 2020 Games in Tokyo as planned despite the widening new coronavirus outbreak, the body's president has pledged. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - FEBRUARY 27: A couple wearing face masks take photographs outside the Tokyo Dome where a number of events including pop concerts have been cancelled because of concerns over the Covid-19 virus, on February 27, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. A growing number of events and sporting fixtures are being cancelled or postponed around Japan while some businesses are asking their employees to work from home and some schools are closing as Covid-19 cases continue to increase and concerns mount over the possibility that the epidemic will force the postponement or even cancellation of the Tokyo Olympics. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
A picture taken on February 26, 2020 shows the Olympics rings next to the IOC headquarters in Lausanne. - The COVID-19 which has already killed more than 3000 people in the World will be at the center of a meeting of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on March 3 and 4, 2020 in Lausanne less than five months before the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Tokyo. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP) (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - FEBRUARY 26: A pedestrian wearing a face mask walks past a display promoting the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games on February 26, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. Concerns that the Tokyo Olympics may be postponed or cancelled are increasing as Japan confirms 862 cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and as some professional sporting contests are being called off or rescheduled and some major Japanese corporations ask for people to work from home. (Photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - FEBRUARY 26: A woman wearing a face mask uses a smartphone as she takes a photograph in front of the Olympic rings at night on February 26, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. Concerns that the Tokyo Olympics may be postponed or cancelled are increasing as Japan confirms 862 cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and as some professional sporting contests are being called off or rescheduled and some major Japanese corporations ask for people to work from home. (Photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - 2020/02/25: view of barricades at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic / Paralympic Village construction site in Tokyo. After the events at the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship in Yokohama Harbour concerning the COVID-19 Coronavirus and the management of Japanese authorities, voices were raised if the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games should be relocated to a different country. Sparking a discussion internationally. (Photo by Stanislav Kogiku/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - 2020/02/17: Photos of women taken posing behind the Olympic Rings near the Japan Olympic Museum and the New National Stadium in Tokyo. The stadium will serve as the main stadium for the opening and closing ceremonies and for the track and field events at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. (Photo by Stanislav Kogiku/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
A runner holding an Olympic torch practices lighting a cauldron during a rehearsal of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics torch relay in Tokyo on February 15, 2020. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)
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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.

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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