On Thursday, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19, an upper-respiratory disease that was first reported in China and has since found its way to countries like Italy, South Korea, and the United States, to be a pandemic.
With leagues like the MLB, the NHL, the NBA, and the NCAA either postponing or cancelling their seasons, and with the number of reported cases continuing to rise, the NAIA announced some drastic, but necessary changes on Monday in order to protect their student athletes as well as help to stop the spread of the virus.
Effective immediately, according to a release put out in the early afternoon, all spring sporting events have been cancelled, effective immediately.
The original hope was that athletics would be able to resume by April 1, but with the coronavirus continuing to spread at an alarming rate, the NAIA decided that it was time to pull the plug.
“All possible scenarios that would have supported a spring sports season were seriously considered by multiple NAIA governance groups,” NAIA President and CEO Jim Carr stated. “However, the growing state of emergency due to the COVID-19, as well as the Center for Disease Control’s recommendation yesterday to limit gatherings to fewer than 50 people for eight weeks, meant we could not in good conscience move forward with the spring sports season and championships.”
The coronavirus has already taken its toll on Grant County athletics.
To start, the annual NAIA DII men’s and women’s basketball tournaments in South Dakota and Iowa were cancelled on Thursday, just one day after they began. The No. 7 ranked Taylor women’s team played just one contest, a 68-66 overtime victory over RV Union College, while the No. 2 ranked IWU men’s team, whom many believed would win their fourth national championship, did not play a single game.
At the high school level, the IHSAA announced on Friday afternoon that the annual boys basketball tournament would be postponed immediately. Shortly after, Commissioner Bobby Cox went to Twitter, stating that “despite our best efforts to continue our beloved tournament, it simply is not feasible at this time. We will continue to evaluate in the days and weeks to come and perhaps restart the tourney at a later date.”
Several large track and field events over the coming weeks, including the IWU indoor track meet scheduled for Saturday and the IU indoor track meet scheduled for Saturday, March 28, have also been cancelled. Furthermore, the high school spring sports schedule has been pushed back until at least the middle of April. Eastbrook, Madison-Grant, Marion, and Oak Hill have all closed their doors until April 6, while Mississinewa will be off until April 13, according to reports.
The News Herald will continue to keep the public informed of any updates surrounding the coronavirus in the coming weeks.