Coronavirus concerns reach college basketball's March Madness

Players association suggests drastic steps
Posted at 5:02 PM, Feb 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-29 17:02:19-05

INDIANAPOLIS — As college basketball's March tournaments grow closer, the National College Players Association says coronavirus concerns need to be taken seriously.

And while the idea may seem far-fetched, the association is suggesting NCAA March Madness Tournament games might be played in empty arenas.

Such a move would have a dramatic impact in Indianapolis, where Lucas Oil Stadium is the site of the NCAA Midwest Men's Basketball Regionals in late-March. One team will go on from Indianapolis to the Final Four.

And there's much more. Bankers Life Fieldhouse is host to 26 men's and women's Big Ten Basketball Tournament games two weeks from now. And the Indiana's Farmers Coliseum at the Indiana State Fairgrounds is home to the Horizon League's men's and women's basketball semifinals and finals.

In a statement released Saturday, the association said the Indianapolis-based NCAA and its colleges should take precautions to protect college athletes. "Precautions should include canceling all auxiliary events that put players in contact with crowds, such as meet and greets and press events," according to the association.

The statement goes on to call for "serious discussion about holding competitions without an audience present."

Already in Asian countries, dozens of events from LPGA golf to Formula One racing and pre-season Japanese baseball have been canceled, postponed or are being played in empty venues.

"The NCAA and its colleges must act now, there is no time to waste," the statement said.

RTV6 has reached out to representatives from the NCAA, the Big Ten and the Horizon League for reaction. We will update this story as more information becomes available.