The NCAA has issued clear guidance in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak in the United States. Namely, that sporting events should be closed to members of the general public going forward.
The organization announced the changes on Wednesday afternoon while confirming that the Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournament’s — i.e. March Madness — will be held without fans.
“The NCAA COVID-19 Advisory Panel recognizes the fluidity of COVID-19 and its impact on hosting events in a public space. COVID-19 is spreading rapidly in the United States, and behavioral risk mitigation strategies are the best option for slowing the spread of this disease,” an NCAA statement read. “This is especially important because mildly symptomatic individuals can transmit COVID-19. Given these considerations, coupled with a more unfavorable outcome of COVID-19 in older adults – especially those with underlying chronic medical conditions – we recommend against sporting events open to the public. We do believe sport events can take place with only essential personnel and limited family attendance, and this protects our players, employees, and fans.”
Bolded emphasis is ours.
— NCAA (@NCAA) March 11, 2020
Obviously the biggest news is for fans on the hard court who were excited to catch the biggest annual event in college hoops. At the same time, this decision has far-reaching consequences not just in that sport but also on the gridiron.
Already Cincinnati and Kent State have announced they are cancelling their spring games due to Coronavirus. Michigan appears to be on the verge of doing the same. Now they and many others will essentially be forced to follow suit.
The Ivy League went one step beyond the NCAA earlier in the day by announcing all spring sports and practices had been cancelled the rest of the semester.
It remains to be seen if schools will formally call off spring games one-by-one or if they will wait as part of their already cautious responses to the Coronavirus. Over 100 campuses are already closed and students sent home to receive instruction online.
Needless to say, the Coronavirus’ deadly impact is being felt far and wide. Based on this latest announcement, that will also extend to college football in the coming weeks as well.