State hoop tourneys canceled; coronavirus puts local sports slate on hold

DOVER — Local sports schedules have been thrown into a state of flux due to growing concerns over the ongoing coronavirus threat.

The DIAA announced Thursday the semifinals and finals of the state basketball tournaments were canceled. Spring sports, scheduled to begin official games Monday, March 23, could be next.

Spring sports are already receiving postponements at the college level.

The University of Delaware released a statement Thursday saying it was suspending all sports competition and practice until further notice. Four members of the UD community have been confirmed to have the virus.

The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference announced it was canceling its basketball tournaments and the NCAA followed suit just an hour later, meaning there will be no March Madness this season.

Delaware State University was playing in the quarterfinals of the MEAC women’s basketball tournament while cancellations from other conferences were rolling in. The Hornets lost 64-63 to Morgan State in which turned out to be the final game of the 2019-2020 college basketball season nationwide.

The MEAC also said all spring sports competitions are being suspended through the end of the spring 2020 semester and next week’s women’s bowling championship will also be suspended.

“While we are disappointed that the excellence of our student-athletes after months of preparation will not be showcased, their health and safety as well as the health and safety of the wider community is of paramount importance,” said Dr. Wayne Frederick, chair of the Council of Chief Executive Officers for the MEAC and president of Howard University.

Local high school sports have already begun practice for the spring season. But with news changing by the hour, it will be difficult for the season to start on time.

Numerous scrimmages were scheduled for the weekend, with most already being postponed.

High school athletic directors are preparing for anything.

“Hopefully there’s some light at the end of the tunnel and we don’t have to forfeit a whole season,” said Dover High athletic director Kevin Turner. “But that could happen. …. Every day something new pops up and you just make the changes you need.”

The Delaware Thunder, the minor league pro hockey team based in Harrington, is also affected. Games are suspended until further notice after a Thursday decision by the Federal Prospect Hockey League.

All tickets previously purchased for a postponed game can be exchanged for a future game this season or in the 2020-2021 season, the team said in a statement. CEO Charles F. Pens is also offering an additional ticket to any future game.

Postponements and cancellations in Delaware are just a handful of what is happening throughout the country.

The NBA, NHL, MLS and MLB each suspended their seasons. The XFL announced it was ending its inaugural season due to the outbreak.

Athletes and officials are being directly affected by the virus as two members of the NBA’s Utah Jazz, Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, were confirmed to have tested positive for coronavirus.

Another positive test in the sports world has a connection to Delaware.

A game official who worked at the 2020 Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball championship has tested positive for coronavirus, the CAA announced Thursday.

Delaware competed at the tournament on Sunday and Monday. The women’s tournament was scheduled for Thursday but was canceled.

The official in question did not exhibit symptoms of the virus until 72 hours after the game he worked, the CAA said, but “out of an abundance of caution the conference has made the involved institutions and tournament personnel aware of the situation so they can take proper precautionary measures.”

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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