NCAA

An NCAA Tournament with empty arenas? It can't be ruled out due to coronavirus fears

An NCAA Tournament with empty arenas? It can't be ruled out due to coronavirus fears

Imagine an NCAA Tournament with no fans in the arenas.

What normally would be thought an impossibility isn't so far-fetched as the United States and the rest of the world attempt to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

An advocacy group for college athletes has urged the NCAA to consider holding its winter sports championships with no fans, and the idea has not been dismissed out of hand.

"If you can think of it, it's something that we've gone through an analysis around," NCAA Chief Operating Officer Donald Remy told Bloomberg News on Tuesday. "We've contingency planned for all circumstances."

The NCAA declined further comment to The Associated Press on the possibility of no fans in the stands. Presumably, the games still would be televised.

The virus has sickened more than 92,000 people and killed 3,100 worldwide, the vast majority of them in China. Nine people have died in the U.S., all in Washington state. Most cases have been mild.

Also Tuesday, the NCAA announced it has established an advisory panel of medical, public health and epidemiology experts and NCAA schools to address the virus, also known as COVID-19. NCAA Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brian Hainline will lead the group.

"The NCAA is committed to conducting its championships and events in a safe and responsible manner," Remy said in a statement. "Today we are planning to conduct our championships as planned; however, we are evaluating the COVID-19 situation daily and will make decisions accordingly."

Hainline said the advisory group will make recommendations on competition based on evolving medical protocols established by the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health and state and local authorities.

"We are in daily contact with the CDC and are advising leadership on the Association's response to this outbreak," he said.

The NCAA generates nearly $1 billion a year, most of it coming from the men's basketball tournament through media rights fees, corporate sponsorships and ticket sales.

Total attendance for the 2019 tournament was 688,753, an average of 19,132 per game. The Final Four at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis drew 72,711 for the semifinals and 72,062 for the championship game.

Attendance for the 2019 women's basketball tournament was 274,873, an average of 6,545 per game.

The men's tournament is scheduled to open March 17 and the women's tournament begins on March 20. The men's Final Four will be played the first weekend in April at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, and the women's Final Four is set for Smoothie King Center in New Orleans.

The NCAA wrestling tournament is March 19-21 at U.S. Bank Stadium, the first time the event has been held in a football stadium. The tournament is expected to break the attendance record of 113,743, set in Cleveland in 2018.

Conference basketball tournaments are set to begin next week, and the Big East, Pac-12, Mountain West, West Coast and Western Athletic conferences said in statements to the AP that they are proceeding as if their tournaments will go on but monitoring the situation.

The WAC noted that if its tournament is not completed, the tournament's No. 1 seed will advance to the NCAA Tournament as the league's automatic qualifier.

Sporting events across the globe have been canceled or contested with no spectators allowed in stadiums or arenas.

Ramogi Huma, executive director of the National College Players Association, urged the NCAA and the schools to take steps to protect athletes.

"Precautions should include cancelling all auxiliary events that put players in contact with crowds such as meet and greets, and press events," he said in a statement. "Athletic programs should also take every possible measure to sanitize buses and airplanes used to transport players.

"In regard to the NCAA's March Madness Tournament and other athletic events, there should also be a serious discussion about holding competitions without an audience present. ... The NCAA and its colleges must act now, there is no time to waste."

Will Ivy League's fall sports decision affect college football?

Will Ivy League's fall sports decision affect college football?

As the days of summer continue to be checked off the calendar, college football finds itself facing a diminishing amount of days left to finalize its plans for seeing football on college campuses this fall, if at all. One conference might be ready to make the call, at least according to some of their coaches.
 
The Ivy League has announced its final decision regarding fall sports, college football most notably, will come sometime this week. According to The Athletic, multiple coaches have stated "that they expect Wednesday's announcement to be that the league is moving all fall sports, including football, to spring 2021."


 
Could college football be headed for a new home on our calendars? How would that happen and who would ultimately make that decision? 
 
The decision for the Ivy League to move fall sports to the spring would be the first declaration from a Division 1 conference of its kind and could set the tone for the other FBS schools. The Ivy League was the first to cancel its basketball conference tournament back on March 12, under scrutiny at the time, due to the Coronavirus pandemic. It was soon to be followed by the other conferences once the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak was universally understood.
 
Harvard has already announced it will allow only 40% of undergraduates on campus in the fall, and all teaching is set to be conducted remotely. 
 
Moving all college football to spring 2021 is one of many scenarios being examined by athletic directors, school presidents and conference commissioners. Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour has called spring football a "last resort," citing the proximity to the 2021 season. The realities of the varying concerns surrounding playing, including scheduling, are legitimate. 

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Multiple programs including Kansas, Kansas State and Houston, have already been forced to suspend voluntary workout because of COVID-19 spikes among athletes. Those cases combined with a recent spike in COVID-19 cases continues to cast a shadow over the likelihood of college football being played as normal this fall.
 
The only thing that remains constant throughout this entire ordeal has been the ever-present fluidity of the world we inhabit. Those able to retain the flexibility and skill to adjust and react to new and pertinent information will be best suited to get us closer to seeing our fall traditions once again, even if it means seeing them in the spring. 

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Former Penn State guard transferred after head coach Pat Chambers made 'noose' comment

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Former Penn State guard transferred after head coach Pat Chambers made 'noose' comment

During his freshman year as a member of the Penn State men’s basketball team, guard Rasir Bolton says he was subject to “subtle repercussions” after reporting an incident in which head coach Pat Chambers said he wanted to “loosen the noose that’s around your neck.”

Now playing for Iowa State, Bolton claims that he went to the school after Chambers made the comment but never received an apology from him. He added that his family didn’t hear back from Penn State’s Integrity Office for six months while in the meantime being provided with a psychologist who wanted to teach him “ways to deal with Coach Chambers’ personality type.”

“A noose; symbolic of lynching, defined as one of the most powerful symbols directed at African Americans invoking the history of lynching, slavery and racial terrorism,” Bolton wrote on Twitter. “Due to other interactions with Coach, I knew this was no slip of the tongue.”

Bolton, who's originally from Petersburg, Virginia, and attended Massanutten Academy for high school, played 32 games for the Nittany Lions in 2018-19, averaging 11.6 points per game with nine starts. However, he says teammates informed him he couldn’t be trusted because he wasn’t “all in” on the program.

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“I didn’t realize that word would hurt him, and I am truly, truly sorry for that,” Chambers told The Undefeated in a story published Monday.

Four days prior to the interaction with Bolton, Chambers was suspended one game for pushing freshman guard Myles Dread in the chest during a timeout. Penn State finished 14-18 that season before turning things around with a 21-10 record this year.

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