Courtesy: Kathryn Herrin via UVU Athletics

WAC cancels Utah Valley regular-season finale over coronavirus concerns

By Sean Walker, | Posted - Mar. 4, 2020 at 1:23 p.m.

OREM — COVID-19 has hit the NCAA.

In the opening week of conference tournaments around the country, and just 10 days away from Selection Sunday for the NCAA Tournament, one of the first cases of college basketball games being impacted by the spread of COVID-19, commonly referred to as the coronavirus, has been confirmed.

The Chicago State men’s basketball team will not travel to previously scheduled home games at Seattle and Utah Valley over concerns regarding spread of the disease. The trip cancellation, which will officially go down as a “no contest” on all three teams’ schedules, is believed to be the first by a major sport in the United States because of the virus.

“Chicago State athletics views our decision as a reaffirmation of our commitment to the well-being, health and safety of our student athletes,” Chicago State athletic director Elliott Charles said in a statement from the university.

Worldwide, more than 95,000 people have been infected and over 3,200 have died, the majority of them in China. Nine deaths have been reported in King County, Washington.

Utah has seen one patient infected with the virus in its borders, a St. George resident who became ill abroad and was transported last Friday to Intermountain Medical Center in Murray under quarantine.

The NCAA has not ruled on extra precautions for the upcoming NCAA Tournament, aside from precautionary measures like regularly washing your hands, and avoiding contact with the eyes, nose and face.

An advocacy group for college athletes recently suggested the association should host all of its winter sports championships, including men’s and women’s basketball, in empty arenas, without fans.

Additionally, Kansas City’s men’s basketball team will not travel to Seattle over similar concerns. The ‘Roos’ final regular-season game will come Thursday at Utah Valley — which will also host its Senior Day festivities for the Wolverines’ four seniors — TJ Washington, Emmanuel Olojakpoke, Brandon Morley and Bradley Kitchen — originally scheduled for Saturday against Chicago State.

In a corresponding move, Chicago State’s women’s basketball team declined to host the same two university programs, meaning Utah Valley’s final regular-season game will come Thursday at Kansas City.

“While disappointed that the situation has evolved as it has, I fully respect the right of any member institution to determine what it believes to be in the best interest of its student-athletes,” WAC commissioner Jeff Hurd said in a statement. “From a conference standpoint, the necessary adjustments will be made according to NCAA policy in order to bracket the conference tournament scheduled for March 11-14 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.”

That means that while no team will officially be deemed a “winner” or “loser” from the no-contest results, Seattle and Utah Valley will be seeded as if each team beat the Cougars.

Chicago State is 4-25 overall, including an 0-14 record in WAC play. Utah Valley is currently seventh in the league with an 11-18 record (5-9 WAC), while Seattle is tied for fourth with Kansas City with a 7-7 league record.

All other conference games will continue as originally scheduled, including the league tournament, the WAC added.

Any patron with tickets to Saturday’s game at Utah Valley may redeem those tickets Thursday night against the ‘Roos. The schools’ Wolverine Club luncheon and Pepsi event scheduled for Saturday have been cancelled, and will be rescheduled to correspond with a baseball game in the spring, the university announced.

Thursday’s game will tip off at 7 p.m. MST in the UCCU Center, with a pregame ceremony for the Wolverine seniors immediately prior to tipoff.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) resources
  • To help mitigate infectious transmission of COVID-19, health care officials advise anyone who thinks they might have the virus to first call their doctor before going to a hospital
  • Wash hands thoroughly and often
  • Stay home if you’re feeling sick
  • Don’t touch your face
  • Cough or sneeze in your elbow or a tissue
Risk and symptoms
  • You could be at risk of having COVID-19 if you’ve recently traveled to mainland China, South Korea or, to a lesser extent, Japan, Italy and Iran.
  • Infected patients typically have a fever, cough and shortness of breath

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