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Coronavirus Effects Hitting College Baseball Hard

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UPDATE: 2:15 PM, Thursday:

More leagues who have suspended action:

  • America East (until April 3)
  • American (until further notice)
  • Atlantic Coast (until further notice)
  • Big 12 (up to the individual schools)
  • Big Ten (until further notice)
  • Big West (until further notice)
  • Colonial (until further notice)
  • Conference USA (until further notice)
  • Ivy League (season cancelled)
  • Metro Atlantic (done for the spring)
  • Missouri Valley (until March 30)
  • Mountain West (until further notice)
  • Northeast (until March 29)
  • Pac 12 (until further notice)
  • Patriot League (season cancelled)
  • Southeastern (until March 30)
  • Southland (until March 30)
  • Summit (until March 30)
  • SWAC (until March 31)
  • Western Athletic (until further notice)

UPDATE: 11:33 AM, Thursday:

Just call it Black Thursday in college baseball.

Our worst fears were imagined Thursday morning when the Patriot League announced it, along with the Ivy League, was cancelling its college baseball season. That was only the start of a hectic morning for our sport. The Horizon League followed by suspending play until the end of March, while the Colonial Athletic Association followed them by suspending the baseball season until further notice. The Pac 12 Conference followed with the same decision, while the most notable announcement today is that the Southeastern Conference will not play baseball until at least March 30. The Big 12 is leaving the decision up to individual athletic departments, but, they, too, are expected to follow the way of the wind on this issue.

We’re speechless. More soon.


UPDATE: 11:12 AM, Thursday:


UPDATE: 10:46 AM, Thursday:

The Patriot League announced Thursday morning that it is cancelling the rest of the season for all spring sports, including baseball.

The extreme measure by the Patriot follows Wednesday’s news by the Ivy League that it was cancelling the rest of the season. The latest news from the Patriot is striking fear into some college coaches, who believe these two leagues cancelling their seasons is only the tip of the iceberg.

The Patriot and Ivy Leagues aren’t alone, however. The NBA announced Wednesday night that it was suspending its season indefinitely after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. Fellow Jazz player Donovan Mitchell has since tested positive for the virus as well. Meanwhile, Major League Soccer also has suspended its season indefinitely. As for intercollegiate athletics, March Madness will proceed without fans in attendance, while almost every institution will have games without general fans moving forward. Several conference basketball tournaments were cancelled earlier this morning.

Stay tuned for more.


UPDATE: 8:45 p.m., Wednesday: The Southeastern Conference has announced that it will not allow general fans at games at least through March 30. The league will allow coaches, players, scouts and immediate family to attend games, however. The Pac 12 joined the SEC in not allowing general fans to attend games for the time being, but did not pinpoint a potential ‘return to normalcy’ date.

 


UPDATE: 7:10 p.m., Wednesday: TCU is the latest athletic department to limit spectators at its athletic events. The Frogs will only allow essential personnel and family members to games thru April 3. That includes a massive series between TCU and Oklahoma, scheduled for March 27-29. Sources say scouts and media will be allowed to attend.

“Obviously this is not what anyone involved wants to have happen but this situation is much bigger than college baseball,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “We all need to take a pause and follow what the officials say is best. The sooner we do that, the quicker all of this gets behind us.”


UPDATE: 6:06 p.m., Wednesday: The Big Ten Conference has announced that no general public will be allowed to attend baseball games the rest of the spring, including the conference tournament. Only pertinent personnel and family members will be allowed into games.


UPDATE: 5:49 pm, Wednesday: Tulane has announced it will go to exclusively online classes for the remainder of the spring semester, along with no general public allowed at home baseball games. The Green Wave is expected to allow family members to attend. The University of New Orleans also will have students do online courses the rest of the semester.


UPDATE: 5:30 pm Wednesday: Just since this story was posted this morning, there have been a couple of major developments. First, the Ivy League announced that it will cancel the remainder of the season for all spring sports, effective tomorrow (Yale will play the final Ivy League baseball game of the season tonight).

This is obviously a devastating blow to the players and coaches who have invested so much time, hard work and emotional capital into this season. Kendall Rogers has been speaking with Ivy League coaches and will have more on this story this afternoon.

• In a dramatic move, the NCAA announced that all March Madness basketball games will be restricted to limited family attendance and essential staff.

If the NCAA is willing to take such a dramatic step with its signature, most profitable event, it seems like only a matter of time before college baseball games across the country will also be played in empty stadiums — if they are played at all.

• And the NCAA is already recommending that all sports begin restricting access to essential personnel and family members:

This story is developing with lightning speed, so stay tuned for more updates.


After nearly 100 universities either moved to remote instruction or suspended classes altogether, the efforts to contain the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) will inevitably reach college baseball.

The effects are minor for the moment, but could become more significant in the coming days. As the United States ramps up its response to COVID-19, colleges and universities are on the front lines as places where thousands of people live in close proximity to one another. “The dorms are cruise ships,” one Harvard official told MSNBC as the school decided to ask students to move out by this weekend.

Harvard has not altered its baseball schedule yet due to coronavirus, but the Ivy League implemented “highly restrictive, in-venue spectator limitations for all other upcoming campus athletics events,” according to a release from the league. The Ivy League also called off its conference basketball tournaments, and canceled all out-of-season practices and competitions. “Following a number of league-wide discussions throughout the last several weeks, we have decided to exercise caution in the interest of student-athletes, fans and the general community,” Ivy League executive director Robin Harris said.

So far, most schools have canceled “face-to-face instruction” and moved to online/remote instruction for at least the next couple of weeks. Some took more significant steps. Bryan Alexander, a higher education consultant and instructor at Georgetown, is tracking university responses to coronavirus and estimated late Tuesday that closures or moves to remote instruction affect more than 1.3 million college students.

Central Connecticut State hasn’t changed its class schedule, but has suspended all university-sponsored travel outside the state to limit exposure to COVID-19. The school said it would handle athletics trips on a case by case basis, and in the case of a trip to Omaha for a baseball series against Creighton, it decided to cancel.

Fordham hasn’t canceled any games yet, but the school did issue a statement on Monday that its home athletic events will be closed to spectators through the end of March due to coronavirus. Like other schools, it’s encouraging people to follow the games by radio or streaming video. The Rams play Wagner at home on Wednesday and have a home-and-home series against St. John’s this weekend. St. John’s has also suspended face-to-face instruction and asked students to leave campus and return home by Wednesday.

No conference, nor the NCAA, has issued official policies on how schools should move forward with their response to COVID-19.

The NCAA issued a statement Tuesday from 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.”

Schools are taking significant steps to limit “social contact” among their students, usually in response to coronavirus cases reported in close proximity to their campuses, or in some cases among the student body.

Vanderbilt, for example, has at least one student who has tested positive for coronavirus and several others who were exposed to the virus. Maxwell Schulman, 21, contracted the virus while on spring break in Spain. While he is recovering at home, some students who were exposed to the virus did return to campus.

“We had two friends who were coming on the trip that decided to cancel because they were scared about coronavirus,” Schulman told WSMV-TV of Nashville. “We all made jokes about it, we thought they were idiots. Uh, so it turns out we were the idiots.”

Vanderbilt has canceled classes for the rest of this week, and in-person classes for the remainder of March. The university also canceled all group gatherings of any kind — except athletics — through the end of April. Like other schools, Vandy also set up a coronavirus response section on the university website to provide resources for students, employees and parents.

The school announced Wednesday that while it had not made any changes to athletic schedules, it was implementing guidelines to try to limit the transmission of disease. Vanderbilt won’t sell any concessions or beverages, will eliminate in-game promotions and giveaways, and will urge fans to utilize practices such as social distancing.

Coronavirus is already having a more profound impact on the West Coast, where more cases have been reported. Santa Clara County in California has restricted any gatherings of more than 1,000 people, though it is not clear yet how that could affect sporting events.

Santa Clara announced on Tuesday a shift to virtual classes, and asked students to go home until at least April 13. The school also announced that it would cancel all campus events. “Based on guidance from the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, all university-sponsored events with 150+ guests will be altered, postponed or canceled through April 19, at which time we will reevaluate this restriction,” the school said in a statement.

Stanford, which is also in Santa Clara County, has also asked students to go home and “not plan to return to campus until further notice.” The school has not called off any athletic events yet, but has said it will limit attendance to one-third of any venue’s capacity.

In San Francisco, the city has declared that gatherings involving more than 1,000 spectators are now banned. San Francisco is on the road for the next four games, but returns home next weekend to face Pacific. If this mandate persists, the Dons would not be allowed to have more than 1,000 fans in attendance. Meanwhile, Brown University announced it will only allow essential personnel and players’ families to attend home games. Each player will be limited to three tickets per family.

In Southern California, UCLA and USC both announced Tuesday they are suspending spectator admittance to any athletic events outside of essential personnel, family of the student-athletes and media. UCLA announced the restrictions will be in place until at least April 11 while Southern California’s limitations are through March 29. The Bruins are slated to host Oregon to open Pac-12 play this weekend and would play 11 of their remaining 21 home games without fans before the precautions are lifted. The Trojans are supposed to play a home game against Xavier this evening before opening conference play against Washington this weekend.

UC Santa Barbara announced it will hold all sporting events “without fans in attendance for the foreseeable future” in a statement that also included the university switching to remote instruction through at least the end of April. Andrew Checketts’ Gauchos are off to a 13-2 start and have home series scheduled each of the next three weekends, but uncertainty now looms.

Washington has not lost any baseball games yet, but tennis matches have been canceled as visiting teams elected not to travel to Seattle. The school has stopped selling tickets to athletic events in anticipation of more restrictive policies in the days ahead. Right now public health officials in Washington are recommending “social distancing,” but those recommendations could soon become mandatory. Washington governor Jay Inslee is expected to announce restrictive measures for fans later this week.

“In anticipation of the implementation of additional actions for social distancing at large events, the University of Washington athletic department will stop ticket sales to upcoming spring sporting events until further direction is given by state and local health officials,” the school said in a statement.

Here’s a list of programs not allowing the general public to attend games for now, or have cancelled games:

  • Alabama (thru March 30)
  • Arizona (no general fans)
  • Arizona State (no general fans)
  • Arkansas (thru March 30)
  • Auburn (thru March 30)
  • Brown (cancelled)
  • California (no general fans)
  • Central Connecticut State (cancelled thru April 6)
  • Columbia (cancelled)
  • Cornell (cancelled)
  • CS Fullerton (no general fans)
  • CS Northridge (no general fans thru April 19)
  • Dartmouth (cancelled)
  • Florida (thru March 30)
  • Fordham (thru March 30)
  • Georgia (thru March 30)
  • Harvard (cancelled)
  • Illinois (no general fans)
  • Indiana (no general fans)
  • Iowa (no general fans)
  • Kentucky (thru March 30)
  • LSU (thru March 30)
  • Manhattan (cancelled thru March 23)
  • Maryland (no general fans)
  • Michigan (no general fans)
  • Michigan State (no general fans)
  • Minnesota (no general fans)
  • Mississippi State (thru March 30)
  • Missouri (thru March 30)
  • Nebraska (no general fans)
  • New Orleans (no general fans)
  • Nevada (no general fans)
  • Northwestern (no general fans)
  • Ohio State (no general fans)
  • Ole Miss (thru March 30)
  • Oregon (no general fans)
  • Oregon State (no general fans)
  • Penn State (no general fans)
  • Pennsylvania (cancelled)
  • Princeton (cancelled)
  • Rhode Island (no general fans thru April 4)
  • Rutgers (no general fans)
  • Southern California (no general fans thru March 29)
  • South Carolina (thru March 30)
  • Stanford (no general fans thru May 15)
  • TCU (no general fans thru April 3)
  • Texas (thru March 22)
  • Texas A&M (thru March 30)
  • Tulane (no general fans)
  • UC Davis (no general fans)
  • UC Irvine (no general fans)
  • UC Santa Barbara (no general fans)
  • UCLA (no general fans thru April 10)
  • UNLV (no general fans)
  • Utah (no general fans)
  • Vanderbilt (thru March 30)
  • Washington (no general fans)
  • Washington State (no general fans)
  • Yale (cancelled)

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