NCAA releases statement on potential conference tournament cancellations amid COVID 19 outbreak

By Meghan Rest, Sports Editor

The NCAA released a statement Tuesday emphasizing athletic conferences’ ability to make their own decisions when suspending and/or canceling regular and post-season play, including league tournaments, in response to coronavirus outbreaks across the country. The statement follows the Ivy League’s decision to cancel its men’s and women’s conference basketball tournaments amid coronavirus concerns.

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    “NCAA member schools and conferences make their own decisions regarding regular season and conference tournament play,” said NCAA president Mark Emmert in a statement released by the organization Tuesday. “As we have stated, we will make decisions on our events based on the best, most current public health guidance available. Neither the NCAA COVID-19 advisory panel, made up of leading public health and infectious disease experts in America, nor the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) or local health officials have advised against holding sporting events. In the event circumstances change, we will make decisions accordingly.”

    There are currently 647 total cases and 25 total reported deaths across 36 states in the U.S., including the District of Columbia, as of Tuesday.

    The NCAA announced the creation of a COVID-19 Advisory Panel on March 3, which includes seven medical professionals and athletic directors from organizations across the country.

    The panel is made up of Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security; Dr. Stephanie Chu, team physician at the University of Colorado, Boulder and member of the NCAA’s Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports; Dr. Carlos del Rio, chairman of the Hubert Department of Global Health at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health; Dr. Colleen Kraft, associate chief medical officer at Emory University Hospital; Dr. Vivek Murthy, 19th surgeon general of the United States and member of the NCAA’s Board of Governors; Mike Rodriguez, senior director of U.S. Tennis Association and U.S. Open Security; and Dr. William Schaffner, professor of Preventive Medicine and Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

    “The NCAA COVID-19 Advisory Panel recognizes the fluidity of COVID-19 and its impact on hosting events in a public space,” the NCAA Advisory Panel said in a statement on Friday. “The panel members believe that we need to better understand COVID-19 while continuing to work with local, state and federal health authorities such as the CDC.  The key is for all stakeholders and athletes to practice risk mitigation at all events. At present, the panel is not recommending cancellation or public spacing of athletic and related events scheduled to occur in public spaces across the United States.”

    The decision to cancel the Ivy League’s conference tournaments was announced three and four days before the women’s and men’s league playoffs were scheduled to take place, respectively. As a result, NCAA officials announced the Ivy League’s regular-season men’s champion, Yale, and the women’s regular-season victor, Princeton, will receive automatic bids to the NCAA Tournaments.

    Chicago State men’s basketball program became the first Division I school to cancel games due to concerns over coronavirus outbreaks on March 3. The University of Missouri-Kansas announced on March 4 its men’s basketball team was forgoing travel plans to Seattle for a weekend game.


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