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University of Maryland athletics announces spectator restrictions amid coronavirus outbreak

University of Maryland athletics on Wednesday announced a series of safety measures for its home events amid concern over the coronavirus outbreak, now labeled a pandemic by the World Health Organization.

Among several changes announced in a release, "Effective immediately, only student-athletes, coaches, essential personnel, officials, credentialed media and a limited number of family members of the competing teams will be permitted to attend games, until at least April 10.”

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This would impact the Maryland women’s basketball team in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament, which is scheduled to begin March 20.

In the NCAA women’s basketball tournament, the first two rounds are played at the sites of the top 16 seeds. Maryland is projected to be a No. 1 seed in the tournament and would host first- and second-round games.

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Following the lead of the NCAA regarding the coronavirus pandemic, Mount St. Mary’s announced Wednesday night that Thursday’s Northeast Conference women’s basketball semifinal between Fairleigh Dickinson and the host Mountaineers would be limited in attendance.

Only “essential staff, media, and limited family attendance” will be allowed at the game at Knott Arena in Emmittsburg that is scheduled to tip at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3 and NEC Front Row.

While Gov. Larry Hogan canceled out-of-state travel for state employees, the coaching staff for both the Maryland men’s and women’s basketball teams, who are employed by the state, will be permitted to travel out of the state for tournament play.

The statement also said that Maryland athletics will “cancel all international recruiting activities, out-of-season competitions and travel, and all out-of-season practices during the week of March 23.”

This impacts the start of spring football practice, which was scheduled to begin March 24. The University of Maryland has already canceled Maryland Day, the same day the football team scheduled its annual Red-White spring football game.

Additionally, Maryland said that it will be making the following changes:

  • Increasing the frequency of cleaning commonly touched surfaces and on-site janitorial service during competitions;
  • Increasing sanitization of locker rooms, equipment and installing additional hand sanitizers at athletic venues;
  • Advising that any student-athlete who does not feel comfortable participating in team activities will be excused from doing so.

The University of Maryland has already announced changes on its campus to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, including canceling classes for the week of March 23-27 and transitioning students and faculty to online-based education from March 30 to April 10.

Across various sports leagues, restrictions to media access and spectator attendance have been implemented.

NCAA president Mark Emmert on Wednesday announced that only essential staff and limited family attendance will be permitted at its championship events, including the Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

The Big Ten Conference, after initially announcing on Wednesday it would continue its men’s basketball tournament as scheduled with spectators present, reversed course and followed suit, restricting spectator attendance starting Thursday.

The men’s basketball tournament is already currently underway in Indianapolis with fans present for the first-round game between Northwestern and Minnesota.

The Maryland men’s basketball team has a double-bye in the Big Ten men’s basketball tournament and is set to play its first game Friday evening.

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