Only essential staff, family members will be able to attend NCAA Tournament games

By LARRY VAUGHT

NASHVILLE — Just a couple of hours ago Florida coach Mike White was asked if he had any thoughts about the coronavirus fears and what it made do to college sports.

White basically said he didn’t worry about things out of his control  and was letting people smarter than him make those calls.

Well, the NCAA has made the call — and fans are not going to be allowed at NCAA championships, including the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

Here is the statement  NCAA president Mark Emmert released late this afternoon:

“The NCAA continues to assess the impact of COVID-19 in consultation with public health officials and our COVID-19 advisory panel. Based on their advice and my discussions with the NCAA Board of Governors, I have made the decision to conduct our upcoming championship events, including the Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, with only essential staff and limited family attendance.

“While I understand how disappointing this is for all our fans of our sports, my decision is based on the current understanding of how COVID-19 is progressing in the United States. The decision is in the best interest of the public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and, most importantly, our student-athletes.

“We recognize the opportunity to compete in an NCAA national championship is an experience of a lifetime for their students and their families. Today, we will move forward and conduct championships consistent with the current information and will continue to monitor and make adjustments as needed.”

It’s impossible to fault what the NCAA is doing because of the fear of the unknown and my guess is a lot of other events — Kentucky Derby, Masters, Major League Basketball, National Hockey League, NBA — are going to do the same.

What about the SEC Tournament?

Tourney games start in just a few hours and the SEC released a statement saying it was “aware” of the NCAA’s decision and that tonight’s game would continue.

“We are evaluating plans for the remainder of the tournament. More to come,” the SEC statement said.

Many fans are already here. Many more are on their way or will be Thursday. Many probably have non-refundable hotel rooms.

It’s going to be a nightmarish situation.

Heck, there’s no mention of whether media members will even be allowed at games — something I am sure most coaches would not mind if media members were not allowed. Hopefully close family members will be allowed in the arenas and it sounds like they will.

But we’ve never dealt with something like this. When Gov. Steve Beshear recommended today that church services be halted, you had to probably know this was coming.

 

 

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