by Tim Miller
Cedarville University tonight announced the NCCAA Midwest Regional Tournament it is hosting tomorrow (and Thursday if necessary) will be played without fans in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. In an email sent to Cedarville University staff, faculty, and students, the athletic department revealed the decision was made in response to a recommendation made by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine.
While the university understands it may upset students and parents of players, it would rather “respect and honor the Governor’s request in the interest of public health.”
Cedarville head coach Kari Hoffman said she isn’t concerned about playing in front of no crowd tomorrow.
“We have God given talents, we use them as an act of worship back to Him, so not having people in the stands won’t be a distraction,” Hoffman said. “The game of basketball is the same (without fans).”
Junior guard Ashlyn Huffman said she was puzzled by the decision by Cedarville, but that it also shouldn’t affect the team’s play tomorrow.
“It seems a little confusing just because everyone is still on campus and allowed to go to class,” Huffman said. “But at the same time, I don’t have all of the knowledge, so I get that it’s a call someone is making with probably more information than I have.”
Multiple universities in Ohio have already announced they will be suspending in-class meetings and in favor of online instruction. The Ohio State University was the first to make the decision, yesterday announcing suspended classes at least through March 30 according to a university press release. Today, Wright State, Ohio University, Akron University, Kent State, and others have followed Ohio State’s lead in some capacity.
Additionally, multiple sports leagues have expressed potential plans to try to stifle the spread of the disease. Some MLB teams are preventing players from meeting fans to sign autographs before games, and the NBA could ban fans from attending games in the future.
The Ohio Department of Health said there are 15 people undergoing testing for the coronavirus as of March 10. Three individuals have tested positive for coronavirus in Ohio, all of which reside in Cuyahoga County, some 200 miles from Cedarville.
The first-seeded Lady Jackets will host No. 4 Roberts Wesleyan at 5:30 p.m. to start the tournament tomorrow. Following that game, No. 2 Grace College will take on No. 3 Concordia (Michigan). If both Cedarville and Grace win tomorrow night, there will be no game on Thursday to crown a regional champion, as both have already clinched spots in the NCCAA National Tournament.
The games can still be streamed through the Yellow Jackets streaming site. More information will be provided when possible.
Tim Miller is a senior Marketing major, editor-in-chief and sports editor for Cedars. He enjoys having a baby face and striving to perfect the optimal combination of Dwight Schrute and Ron Swanson.