The NCAA is continuing to prepare for its various winter and spring championships — including the 2020 NCAA Tournament — while it monitors the potential spread of coronavirus, the organization confirmed to Sporting News on Monday. It is also making sure its member institutions are aware they should contact the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for any information about the virus.
“The NCAA Sport Science Institute sent two memos recently to NCAA members directing schools and conference offices to Center for Disease Control and Prevention resources on the issue,” NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn told SN in an email.
“Otherwise, 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 NCAA’s statement comes after Ramogi Huma, director of the National College Players Association — an advocacy group for college athletes — released a statement over the weekend suggesting the NCAA should consider taking extraordinary measures and precautions in regard to the coronavirus.
“In the wake of the emerging coronavirus pandemic, the NCAA and its colleges should take precautions to protect college athletes,” Huma’s statement read. “They should make public which actions will be taken and when. Precautions should include cancelling all auxiliary events that put players in contact with crowds, such as meet and greets and press events.”
The NCAA Tournament will be played in 14 sites across the nation, beginning March 17 with the First Four in Dayton, Ohio. It will conclude with the Final Four and national championship game, contested in Atlanta on April 4 and 6, respectively.
Aside from the 2020 NCAA Tournament, there will be another week’s worth of regular-season games in men’s basketball, 32 Division I conference tournaments, a virtually identical collection of women’s basketball events and championships and tournaments in ice hockey and wrestling over the next month.
The NCPA’s broad statement seemed to be more aimed at the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, however.
“In regard to the NCAA’s March Madness tournament and other athletic events, there should be a serious discussion about holding competitions without an audience present,” the statement said.
“The NCAA and its colleges must act now, there is no time to waste.”