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NCAA Plans To Play Tournament Games With Spectators As Virus Looms

Tyree Eady, Larry McKnight Jr.
The University of Dayton, site of the First Four games | Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The NCAA is dealing with two diseases at the same time - March Madness and the coronavirus. They're not alone. Sports organizations around the world are rushing to come up with contingency plans to mitigate damage, including, but not limited to, potentially playing games in empty arenas or postponing games altogether, as Italy's Serie A soccer league has already done.

However, according to the senior vice president of NCAA Basketball, Dan Gavitt, the upcoming NCAA Basketball Tournament will not take such a drastic step.

“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 told CBS Sports. "We are certainly mindful of the challenges nationally with COVID-19. We have an advisory panel of experts in epidemiology, infectious disease, and sports safety that are advising us, and we meet on a daily basis with our senior leadership team to assess the situation."

Gavitt also added that the NCAA is in frequent communication with the Centers for Disease Control, which, coincidentally, is headquartered in Atlanta, where the Final Four will be held.

Of course, the NCAA's plans can change depending on the severity of the virus' impact on the United States. Among the 14 host sites of the tournament are Los Angeles, Spokane, and Sacramento, all in regions hardest hit by the virus.