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NCAA forms coronavirus advisory panel, not changing championships yet

“Today we are planning to conduct our championships as planned, however, we are evaluating the COVID-19 situation daily and will make decisions accordingly.”
CHRIS ZUPPA | Times SP_335803_ZUPP_NCAA_24 (Tampa, 03/19/2011) UCLA's Reeves Nelson (left) cannot stop Florida's Patric Young's slam dunk. 2011 NCAA Basketball tournament at the St. Petersburg Times Forum. 12:15 p.m. game is No. 5 West Virginia vs. No. 4 Kentucky. The second game is No. 7 UCLA vs. No. 2 Florida. [CHRIS ZUPPA, Times] [Times]

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The coronavirus outbreak has not yet changed upcoming NCAA championships, including March Madness games coming to Tampa in two weeks. But the association has formed an advisory panel to monitor the fluid situation and make any changes, if the outbreak requires them.

“The NCAA is committed to conducting its championships and events in a safe and responsible manner,” chief operating officer Donald Remy said in a statement Tuesday. “Today we are planning to conduct our championships as planned, however, we are evaluating the COVID-19 situation daily and will make decisions accordingly...

“The NCAA will make decisions that are first and foremost reflective of medical best practices and keeps the health and safety of student-athletes, administrators and fans as the number one priority.”

The advisory panel, led by NCAA chief medical officer Dr. Brian Hainline, includes a half-dozen experts with various backgrounds, from a team doctor to a former surgeon general, and four college athletes.

Hainline said the NCAA is in daily contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the panel will meet regularly to discuss the fluid situation.

Related: Grand Prix of St. Petersburg monitoring coronavirus outbreak

Florida has three cases of the coronavirus. Two of them are in Hillsborough County, including a presumptive positive instance announced Tuesday.

Amalie Arena is scheduled to host first- and second-round games on March 19 and 21. Participating teams and times have not yet been determined.

The ACC released this statement earlier Tuesday on the illness as it prepares for upcoming conference basketball tournaments.

“The Atlantic Coast Conference continues to prepare for the upcoming ACC and NCAA Tournaments scheduled to be held at the Greensboro Coliseum. As part of the preparations, we remain in communication with our institutions, local and state health authorities and the NCAA. We will also continue following the guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

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Tampa Bay Times coronavirus guide

Q&A: What you need to know after Florida’s first positive coronavirus cases.

PROTECT YOURSELF: Household cleaners can kill the virus on most surfaces, including your phone screen.

BE PREPARED: Guidelines for essentials to keep in your home should you have to stay inside.

FACE MASKS: They offer some protection, but studies debate their effectiveness.

WORKPLACE RISK: A list of five things employers could be doing to help curb the spread of the disease.

READER BEWARE: Look out for bad information as false claims are spreading online.

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