The Virginia Cavaliers tip off against the UMBC Retrievers in the first round of the 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Spectrum Center on March 16, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Streeter Lecka | Getty Images
The National College Players Association is calling on the NCAA to consider holding the March Madness men’s basketball tournament without an audience in order to protect players from the coronavirus.
“In the wake of the emerging coronavirus pandemic, the NCAA and its colleges should take precautions to protect college athletes,” the group said in a statement released Saturday.
“In regard to the NCAA’s March Madness Tournament and other athletic events, there should be a serious discussion about holding competitions without an audience present,” the group added.
The National College Players Association, a nonprofit group that advocates for college athletes, also called for the NCAA to cancel meet-and-greets and press events that would put players in contact with crowds.
The NCAA could not be immediately reached for comment.
There are more than 60 confirmed cases of the coronavirus nationwide. Washington state confirmed the first U.S. death from the virus on Saturday.
The NCAA will reveal the bracket with the 68 teams competing in the tournament on March 15, known as Selection Sunday, with the first four games held on March 17 and 18 at the University of Dayton in Ohio.
Read the full statement:
National College Players Association’s Statement on Coronavirus and College Athlete Health:
“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 regard 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.”