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Coronavirus Threat Has Group Calling for Empty March Madness Arenas
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

The NCAA Tournament is a beautiful, beautiful thing. From big-time performances to Cinderella stories, it truly is one of the greatest sporting events of the year. Part of what makes March Madness special are the fans at the games, but the coronavirus outbreak has one group concerned about people attending.

In a rather stern message, the National College Players Association wants the National Collegiate Athletic Association to consider not allowing fans at March Madness games this year due to coronavirus fears. Basically, the NCPA wants the NCAA staff to be very cautious and protect the players’ health.

NCPA’s Statement on College Athlete Health

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The concern from the advocacy group is legitimate because coronavirus is serious in the United States and abroad, but it would change the college basketball tournament drastically.

“In the wake of the emerging coronavirus pandemic, the NCAA and its colleges should take precautions to protect college athletes. They should also 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. Athletic programs should also take every possible measure to sanitize buses and airplanes used to transport players.

“In regards to the NCAA’s March Madness Tournament and other athletic events, there should 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.”

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The NCAA promptly responded with a statement of their own, via CNN.

“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 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 Spokesman Greg Johnson

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With both the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments just around the corner, it would be rather tough to do. A lot of money would be lost if no fans could attend, too.

Could you imagine the First Four through the Final Four being played without fans? Just thinking about it is crazy. It’s hard to understand how this is the best way and solution.

MORE: 12 Improbable Runs by March Madness’ Greatest Cinderella Stories

Brett Regan About the author:
With over 10 years of sports writing experience, Brett has covered some of the top local, regional, and national sporting events in the Heartland for both print and digital platforms. He is a graduate of Kansas State University and resides in Austin, Texas.
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