The headline here doesn’t really sound like substantial news, but the statement the NCAA released Tuesday evening represents a pretty big change of position from even a few hours earlier.
In its entirety, the statement reads: “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.”
Four days ago, the NCAA’s statement was far more emphatic: “The NCAA COVID-19 Advisory Panel recognizes the fluidity of COVID-19 and its impact on hosting events in a public space. The panel members believe that we need to better understand COVID-19 while continuing to work with local, state and federal health authorities such as the CDC. The key is for all stakeholders and athletes to practice risk mitigation at all events. At present the panel is not recommending cancellation or public spacing of athletic and related events scheduled to occur in public spaces across the United States.”
Around lunchtime on Tuesday, their position was: “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.”
That statement came out at 1:13 pm on Tuesday.
By 5:45, just four-and-a-half hours later, “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” had given way to “decisions in the coming days.”
Earlier today, the Ohio High School Athletic Association decided to follow the recommendation of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and significantly limit the number of people in attendance for the state championships in four sports.
As of now, the Big Ten men’s basketball tournament, Ohio State Spring Game, and all Division 1 NCAA Men’s Tournament games are still scheduled to go on with crowds in attendance.