The coronavirus pandemic first disrupted the NCAA Men’s Division I basketball tournament on Saturday when a scheduled game between Oregon at the seventh seed and Virginia Commonwealth, a # 10 seed, was declared undisputed due to virus problems.
VCU said in a statement Saturday night that it had received “multiple positive tests” in the past 48 hours.
“We are devastated for our players and coaches,” said Mike Rhoades, VCU’s coach, in the statement, which found the team had been tested daily for the past three weeks.
In its own statement on Saturday, the NCAA men’s basketball committee said it regretted the VCU’s players and coaches “cannot participate in a tournament they have acquired the right to participate in”.
Under the rules of the tournament, Oregon will automatically advance through the tournament and play the winner of the game on Saturday night between Iowa # 2 and Grand Canyon, a seed # 15.
The virus has spread across the tournament, which will be held exclusively in Indiana due to the pandemic, as a threat to championship quests being completed before they even start in seriousness. Last week, teams at the Atlantic Coast and at the Big 12 conferences – Duke, Kansas and Virginia – pulled out of their tournaments because of the virus.
NCAA officials have placed significant restrictions on players, coaches and officials to prevent the virus from entering the men’s tournament, a juggernaut of college sports that makes up most of the association’s annual revenue. Participation was restricted, teams were largely confined to their Indianapolis hotels, and many people associated with the tournament were tested for the virus on a daily basis.
Additionally, members of team travel groups were required to test for viruses for seven consecutive days before traveling to Indiana.
However, in an interview on Monday, Mark Emmert, the NCAA president, admitted that cases could surface during the tournament, which is slated to close on April 5th.
“The first goal isn’t serious medical problems,” said Emmert. “That doesn’t mean we don’t have teams to pull out or that someone tests positive – we’re not naive – but no serious medical problems.”