The NCAA is preparing to play the upcoming men’s basketball tournament as scheduled and with fans attending despite growing fears of the coronavirus in the United States, an organization official said Sunday.
Dan Gavitt, the NCAA’s senior vice president of basketball operations, told CBS Sports current plans are for the games to be played in all scheduled locations.
“At this time, we are definitively planning on running the tournament at all 14 sites with fans, from the First Four in Dayton through the Final Four in Atlanta,” Gavitt said.
The tournament begins March 17 in Dayton, Ohio.
The coronavirus has killed more than 3,500 people and infected more than 105,000 people globally after being identified in China in December. In the United States, at least 19 people have died — 16 of them in Washington state — and more than 475 people have tested positive across 32 states and the District of Columbia, CNN reported Sunday.
A respiratory illness, it can be spread through coughing and sneezing.
Worries about the virus already prompted the first two rounds of the NCAA Division III men’s basketball tournament to be played this weekend at Johns Hopkins in Maryland without any spectators in the crowd.
Officials at RPI announced Sunday the ECAC Hockey men’s quarterfinals series next weekend at Houston Field House in Troy, N.Y., will be conducted without spectators.
That’s just 10 miles from the Times Union Center in Albany, which is scheduled to host first- and second-round games in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament on March 19 and 21. New York state had 105 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Sunday morning.
“The advice we’re getting from our experts is playing without fans is not called for,” Gavitt said.
Other first- and second-round NCAA sites are Spokane, Wash.; St. Louis; Tampa, Fla.; Greensboro, N.C.; Omaha, Neb.; Sacramento, Calif; and Cleveland.
Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games will be played in Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Houston and New York, with the Final Four set for Atlanta. The championship game is scheduled for April 6.
–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)