Last night (March 11) the NBA’s first positive case was found in Rudy Gobert, the center for the Utah Jazz. And most recently, his star teammate Donovan Mitchell has also contracted the virus. Being generally one of the most proactive sports leagues, the NBA immediately suspended the rest of the season until the virus is under control. But the NCAA is still a bit behind.
The NCAA has yet to confirm a student-athelete or a staff member has coronavirus, but it might be time for them to limit the contact between them and cancel all games– which is a bigger commitment than the original plan to play games without fans. What makes it even more dangerous is that March Madness begins soon, and even Charles Barkley is calling for precautions.
“I give Adam Silver a lot of credit, man. Let’s shut this thing down and try to figure it out. I’m gonna say this and I’m probably going to get in trouble because I work for Turner, March Madness and CBS. I think Turner Sports and CBS need to close down March Madness, man…Because, even if there’s no fans in the stands, you can’t have these players breathing on each other for two weeks. Even if they had a hotel, they’re going to be in different cities around the country. I hate to say it…like I said, I probably shouldn’t say it because I work for CBS, I think we’re going to have to shut down March Madness until we know more.”
“I think the NCAA and the NBA should take a step back,” he continued. “Let’s get all these players tested, these guys have been with their families for the last two weeks.
Currently, the spectator-free games for the NCAA men’s Division I basketball tournaments will be played in 14 cities. The 68-team men’s field is scheduled to be announced on Sunday with the tourney beginning on March 17 in Dayton, Ohio. That much travel among 68 teams in close quarters, spread amongst 14 cities can definitely become of a catalyst in the spread of coronavirus.
Even legendary college basketball personality Dick Vitale is a bit shocked that it’s still business as usual.
“I wasn’t surprised with the decision by the NCAA to announce that the games would be played [without] fans but I am surprised that the games would even be played,” the 80-year-old wrote on Twitter.