Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates: WNBA player Sydney Wiese reveals she tested positive

March 27

Los Angeles Sparks guard Sydney Wiese tested positive for the coronavirus after returning from playing overseas in Spain. She’s been in self-isolation at home in Phoenix since her return and is encouraging everyone to practice social distancing to help prevent the spread of the virus. The Sparks are in direct communication with Sydney and wish her a speedy recovery.

March 26

The 2020 WNBA Draft will be a virtual event with players participating remotely.

The 2020 WNBA Draft will take place as scheduled on April 17, the league announced today. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, no prospects, guests or media will attend. Instead, WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert will announce the draft picks live on ESPN2 at 8 p.m. ET with players participating remotely.

March 15

The NCAA announced that basketball championship brackets will not be released for 2020.

From Dan Gavitt, NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball:

The important work of the basketball committees is to set up competitively-balanced brackets to determine national champions. I don’t believe it’s responsible or fair to do that with incomplete seasons — especially for tournaments that unfortunately won’t be played. Therefore there will not be any NCAA Division I men’s and women’s basketball championship selection shows or tournament brackets released this year.

He also wrote:

Brackets based on hypotheticals can’t substitute for a complete selection, seeding and bracketing process. There will always be an asterisk next to the 2020 NCAA men’s and women’s basketball championships regardless if brackets are released. There is not an authentic way to produce tournament fields and brackets at this point without speculating and that isn’t fair to the teams that would be positively or negatively impacted by manufacturing March Madness.

March 14

Cleveland State women’s basketball head coach Chris Kielsmeier tested positive for COVID-19. The school released the following statement:

We were notified today by the head coach of our Women’s Basketball Team, Chris Kielsmeier, that he has tested positive for COVID-19. This is the first confirmed case of COVID-19 at CSU and has been confirmed by Cuyahoga County health officials. As nothing is more important to us than the health and welfare of our CSU community, we wanted all of you to know that we are doing everything possible to support Chris in his recovery and ensure that all who came into close contact with him are being contacted and given the best in medical advice and support.

“It has been a very challenging couple of days,” said Chris Kielsmeier. “I am beginning to feel better and look forward to getting back to 100%.”

“We appreciate Chris doing the right thing by staying home and alerting us as soon as he started feeling ill,” said CSU President Harlan Sands. “His actions were helpful in limiting exposure to the CSU community.”

March 12

The NCAA cancels the remaining winter and spring championships.

Today, NCAA President Mark Emmert and the Board of Governors canceled the Division I men’s and women’s 2020 basketball tournaments, as well as all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships. This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities.

WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert released the following statement:

“The health and safety of players and employees – with our teams and at the league level – is of the utmost importance. With regard to COVID-19, we are in touch with the teams, consulting with infectious disease specialists and monitoring guidance from the CDC and WHO. The WNBA is currently not in season, but together with the WNBPA and teams, we have been in close communication and will continue to connect with and offer resources to players in the U.S. and those playing overseas.

In addition, we continue to scenario plan around our upcoming events and season including the 2020 WNBA Draft scheduled for April 17, the start of training camp on April 26 and the tip of the WNBA season on May 15. Further details will be shared later this month.”

WNIT Canceled

It is with deep regret that officials with the Women’s National Invitation Tournament have announced the 2020 Postseason WNIT has been cancelled in response to public health concerns over the Coronavirus.

Women’s Basketball Invitation Canceled

March 11

NCAA President Mark Emmert’s statement on limiting attendance at NCAA events

The NCAA continues to assess the impact of COVID-19 in consultation with public health officials and our COVID-19 advisory panel. Based on their advice and my discussions with the NCAA Board of Governors, I have made the decision to conduct our upcoming championship events, including the Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, with only essential staff and limited family attendance. While I understand how disappointing this is for all fans of our sports, my decision is based on the current understanding of how COVID-19 is progressing in the United States. This decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and, most importantly, our student-athletes. We recognize the opportunity to compete in an NCAA national championship is an experience of a lifetime for the students and their families. Today, we will move forward and conduct championships consistent with the current information and will continue to monitor and make adjustments as needed.

Advisory Panel statement

The NCAA COVID-19 Advisory Panel recognizes the fluidity of COVID-19 and its impact on hosting events in a public space. COVID-19 is spreading rapidly in the United States, and behavioral risk mitigation strategies are the best option for slowing the spread of this disease. This is especially important because mildly symptomatic individuals can transmit COVID-19. Given these considerations, coupled with a more unfavorable outcome of COVID-19 in older adults – especially those with underlying chronic medical conditions – we recommend against sporting events open to the public. We do believe sport events can take place with only essential personnel and limited family attendance, and this protects the players, employees, and fans.

Advisory Panel members

NCAA Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brian Hainline will lead the group, which will include:

  • Amesh Adalja, M.D. – Senior Scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security
  • Stephanie Chu, M.D. – Team physician, University of Colorado, Boulder; Member, NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports
  • Carlos del Rio, M.D. – Chair, Hubert Department of Global Health at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health
  • Colleen Kraft, M.D. – Associate chief medical officer, Emory University Hospital
  • Vivek Murthy, M.D. – 19th Surgeon General of the United States; Member, NCAA Board of Governors
  • Mike Rodriguez – Senior director, U.S. Tennis Association and U.S. Open Security
  • William Schaffner, M.D. – Professor, Preventive Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center

College athlete liaisons will provide their perspective to the advisory panel. The liaisons include:

  • Nicholas Clark – Former Coastal Carolina college athlete and Board of Governors Student-Athlete Engagement Committee chair
  • Caroline Lee – Southeastern Louisiana college athlete; NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee member and Division I SAAC representative to the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sport
  • Mary Northcutt – Carson-Newman college athlete; NCAA Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee member and Division II SAAC representative to the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sport
  • Isaiah Swann – University of Texas at Dallas college athlete; NCAA Division III Student-Athlete Advisory Committee member and Division III SAAC representative to the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sport

March 10 – Updated NCAA Statement, 5:45 p.m. ET

The NCAA continues to assess how COVID-19 impacts the conduct of our tournaments and events. We are consulting with public health officials and our COVID-19 advisory panel, who are leading experts in epidemiology and public health, and will make decisions in the coming days.

March 10

On the same day that the Ivy League announced the cancellation of the conference’s basketball tournaments due to the coronavirus outbreak, the NCAA released the following statement from the organization’s president, Mark Emmert.

NCAA member schools and conferences make their own decisions regarding regular season and conference tournament play.  As we have stated, we will make decisions on our events based on the best, most current public health guidance available. Neither the NCAA COVID-19 advisory panel, made up of leading public health and infectious disease experts in America, nor the CDC or local health officials have advised against holding sporting events. In the event circumstances change, we will make decisions accordingly.

– Mark Emmert, NCAA president

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