Coronavirus causing changes in plans across sports: What we know now

Credit: Justin K. Aller

Credit: Justin K. Aller

The OHSAA announced late Tuesday night all previously purchased tickets for the upcoming state tournaments of wrestling, ice hockey and basketball are void as policies are updated to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

That was just one of several developments over the past 24 hours.

Here is a look at what has happened:

1. The OHSAA's moves came shortly after Governor Mike DeWine asked colleges and universities to hold classes online, organizers of indoor sporting events to ban spectators, communities to cancel parades and other large gatherings and nursing homes to carefully screen visitors. 

“We are following the Governor’s instructions and are doing this for the safety of Ohioans,” OHSAA executive director Jerry Snodgrass said in a release. “This is a very difficult time and we need our schools and fans to know that we have been told we must do this.

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“We must pull together to do the best we can to conduct these tournaments so that the student-athletes can still finish their seasons, which have gotten them to the pinnacle of their sport.”

All three state tournaments will be held in Columbus.

2. For the girls basketball state tournament this week and the boys tournament next week, each athlete may designate four family members to be permitted to buy single-session tickets while coaches and administrators are allowed to buy tickets for two family members apiece. 

The same rules also go for the ice hockey tournament and regional boys basketball tournament beginning Wednesday.

In the case of the regional basketball tournament, which is held at multiple sites across the state, bus drivers are also allowed one free ticket for themselves and a guest. Tickets will be available at entry, cash only, at the site of each game.

For the wrestling tournament at the Schottenstein Center, four family members per athlete will be able to buy tickets, and they will only be sold as all-session books.

Additionally, all events surrounding the state tournament games are cancelled, including special presentations, halftime entertainment, various meetings, merchandise sales and other display booths.

3. Media outlets are still permitted to cover the games. 

In a supplement to an earlier announcement, DeWine tweeted credentialed media should be allowed to cover games.

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The OHSAA agreed and announced news outlets may provide live video of the boys regional basketball tournament if they pay tape-delay rights fee.

The state basketball tournaments are shown annually by Spectrum News 1.

The OHSAA produces a radio broadcast of the state tournament games that is available to stations across the state, and local stations are also permitted to produce their own broadcasts.

4. College basketball games are already seeing an impact. 

The Mid-American Conference men’s and women’s basketball tournaments will be played at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Wednesday-Saturday with only limited attendance. In addition to athlete family members, media and broadcast crew members, “official team party members” will be allowed to attend. Fans who already purchased tickets are eligible for a refund or credit towards next year’s event.

The same venue is scheduled to host first- and second-round games of the NCAA Tournament next week, but before that the tournament is to kick off in Dayton with the First Four.

On Monday, NCAA representative Dan Gavitt told CBS Sports the organization was “definitively planning on running the tournament at all 14 sites with fans, from the First Four in Dayton through the Final Four in Atlanta,” but since then that stance may have softened.

“The NCAA continues to assess how COVID-19 impacts the conduct of our tournaments and events,” said NCAA director of communications Stacey Osburn in a statement. “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.”

5. Professional teams are not heeding the governor’s calls yet. 

A statement from Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse indicated the venue would still host a minor-league hockey Cleveland Monsters game Sunday afternoon with regular fan access, but it directed fans who are sick or potentially at higher risk of getting the disease or dying from it to stay home.

The Cavaliers of the NBA also call that venue home, but they are scheduled to be on the road until March 24.

In Columbus, the Blue Jackets of the NHL are part of a cross-league decision to suspend locker rooms and clubhouses to the media until further notice, but the team has indicated it will also not restrict fan access.

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