NCAA Points Colleges To CDC On Coronavirus As March Madness Looms

NCAA championship season - Photo Courtesy: Cathleen Pruden

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The NCAA’s Sports Science Institute issued memos to its members directing schools toward Centers for Disease Control (CDC) resources as early as late January, urging programs to take necessary precautions.

The contents of NCAA  memos were revealed by USA Today amid concerns for safety and the prospect of any outbreak of the coronavirus – COVID 19 throwing the sports calendar into chaos. The NCAA is just about to enter its busiest time of the year.

The news comes as the swimming community is starting to ask about the relationship between coronavirus and water, 2008 research having suggested that some coronavirus strains survived in waters in temperatures between 4C and 23C.

The NCAA’s men’s and women’s basketball tournaments are due to start March 17.  The Division I men’s basketball tournament is the corporation’s biggest money maker. From a swimming perspective, this is one of the busiest times of the year for the NCAA The Division I men’s and women’s championships are held during the same time as the basketball tournament, with the women’s event to be held in three weeks March 18 – 21 in Athens, Georgia while the men’s meet will be March 25 – 28 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

NCAA associate director of communications Chris Radford told USA Today:

“NCAA staff continues to prepare for March Madness but we are keenly aware of coronavirus and will continue to monitor in coordination with state/local health authorities and the CDC.”


The ‘ coronavirus COVID-19-‘ explained by the World Health Organisation – Photo Courtesy: WHO, YouTube

Now, in the two memos issued to athletics directors, health care administrators, conference commissioners, head coaches and team doctors,   the NCAA has shared links to CDC resources on travel, coronavirus symptoms and topics to discuss with campus leadership.

One memo, sent February 13, was reported by USA Today as stating:

“Regarding championship play for the winter and spring seasons, the NCAA is taking concerted steps to maintain the first-rate delivery of NCAA championship experiences for participating student-athletes, team personnel and fans.”

“Championships staff members will implement their health and safety checklist in conjunction with host schools and conferences and their community partners and will monitor COVID-19 developments through the NCAA Sport Science Institute. As they would with any public health crisis, championships staff will add appropriate safeguards in coordination with campus and local health response teams to address COVID-19 concerns.”

The NCAA memos started as early as January 28, providing details of the China outbreak in Wuhan along side the following advice:

“The NCAA Sport Science Institute encourages athletics departments to carefully review these materials with applicable institutional health care providers and other relevant campus personnel and to implement, as necessary, appropriate risk-mitigating initiatives.”

The NCAA schools, it added, “have the primary responsibility for ensuring that actionable plans are in place to guide local response to a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 among school personnel or a related exposure incident at an on-campus event.”

The latest NCAA moves come in a week that has seen Dick Pound raise the prospect of cancelling the Olympic Games, concern expressed by leading names in swimming, and a plea from Ian Thorpe today for athletes to put health ahead of their Olympic dreams should it come to the need to do so.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Nancy Messonnier, the director of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, warned that an outbreak of the virus, also known as 2019-nCoV or COVID-19, could lead to school closings and the cancellation of major sporting events.

“Disruption to everyday life may be severe,” said Messonnier.

World Health Organisation On Travel

The World Health Organisation (WHO) today issued then following statement related to travel during the official health emergency:

As the current outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) continues to develop, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) are committed to working together in guiding the travel and tourism sectors’ response to COVID-19.

On 30 January 2020, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak of COVID-19 to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and issued a set of Temporary Recommendations. WHO did not recommend any travel or trade restriction based on the current information available. WHO is working closely with global experts, governments and partners to rapidly expand scientific knowledge on this new virus, to track the spread and virulence of the virus, and to provide advice to countries and the global community on measures to protect health and prevent the spread of this outbreak.

Cooperation is key

The tourism sector is fully committed to putting people and their well-being first. International cooperation is vital for ensuring the sector can effectively contribute to the containment of COVID-19. UNWTO and WHO are working in close consultation and with other partners to assist States in ensuring that health measures be implemented in ways that minimize unnecessary interference with international traffic and trade.

Tourism’s response needs to be measured and consistent, proportionate to the public health threat and based on local risk assessment, involving every part of the tourism value chain – public bodies, private companies and tourists, in line with WHO’s overall guidance and recommendations.

UNWTO and WHO stand ready to work closely with all those communities and countries affected by the current health emergency, to build for a better and more resilient future. Travel restrictions going beyond these may cause unnecessary interference with international traffic, including negative repercussions on the tourism sector.

At this challenging time, UNWTO and WHO join the international community in standing in solidarity with affected countries.



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Woosuk Choi
4 years ago

James Ash
4 years ago

So scary. Any sick kid in a lane is going to get all those kids around them sick too. Our team just returned from a travel meet and half of them got sick.

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