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NCAA cancels March Madness, other events, as coronavirus spreads

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

The NCAA announced Thursday it’s canceling remaining winter and spring championship events to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The cancellations include the men’s and women’s tournament scheduled for later this month.

“The NCAA is committed to conducting its championships and events in a safe and responsible manner,” NCAA COO Donald 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.”

According to the NCAA, it has established a COVID-19 advisory panel of leading medical, public health and epidemiology experts to guide the response to the outbreak of the virus.

“We are actively monitoring COVID-19 in the United States and will make recommendations on competition based on the evolving medical protocols established by the CDC, NIH and state and local authorities,” NCAA Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brian Hainline said in a press release. “We are in daily contact with the CDC and are advising leadership on the Association’s response to this outbreak.”

Originally, the plan was to hold the men’s and women’s tournaments without fans in the stands.

Arizona State head basketball coach Bobby Hurley took to Twitter after the decision, saying he respects the NCAA’s plan, but the brackets for the tournaments should still be announced.

The cancellations come following numerous conferences’ decision to cancel the remainder of their championships.

The Ivy League was the first domino to fall, announcing cancellations of its basketball tournaments on Tuesday before canceling all athletic events through the remainder of spring.

Arizona State, among other schools, followed suit on Thursday, with the Sun Devils canceling all sport competitions “effective immediately” and “until further notice.”

In addition to the NCAA, MLB has decided to cancel its spring training games, while the NHL and NBA have suspended play.

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