March Madness with no fans? Group poses idea amid coronavirus concerns

Mar 16, 2018; Charlotte, NC, USA; A view of the NCAA logo and basketball before the game between the Virginia Cavaliers and the UMBC Retrievers in the first round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament at Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

(WVLT) -- Fans all across the country are gearing up for March Madness, which officially kicks off on March 17. But one group says 'wait a minute' in the wake of the coronavirus.

As of March 2, Washington state had confirmed six deaths due to the virus, which spread from China across most parts of the world.

Public concern prompted the National College Players Association (NCPA) to release a statement, saying there should be "serious discussion" about hosting the tournament without audiences.

"In regard to the NCAA's March Madness Tournament and other athletic events, there should be a serious discussion about holding competitions without an audience present," the NCPA wrote on its website.

The NCPA also suggested that the NCAA and colleges should protect student-athletes by "canceling all auxiliary events that put players in contact with crowds such as meet and greets and press events."

The NCAA has not directly responded to the suggestion, the LA Times reported.

Officials have cautioned the public not to panic about the virus and have said people can take precautions against coronavirus by washing their hands.

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