Duke, Kansas Suspend Athletic Activities Because of Coronavirus Concerns

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 12, 2020

LAHAINA, HI - NOVEMBER 27:  The Kansas Jayhawks logo on a pair of shorts during the championship game of the Maui Invitation basketball game against the Dayton Flyers at the Lahaina Civic Center on November 27, 2019 in Lahaina, Hawaii.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Both Duke and Kansas suspended all athletic events indefinitely Thursday, with immediate effect, because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

"During this unpredictable time, Duke Athletics fully supports all measures to protect the health and welfare of the Duke family and beyond," Duke athletic director Kevin White said Thursday. "While we understand this may be daunting to many, please know that this decision is entirely in the best interest of all student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans."

Kansas athletic director Jeff Long issued a statement as well:

"Our highest priority at Kansas is to ensure the safety and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and staff. Based on the recommendations of our medical professionals, we have canceled all athletic travel indefinitely. In addition, all home and away athletics events have been suspended indefinitely. We will continue to monitor the situation and determine the next appropriate steps based on advice from our medical team."

The status of the schools' basketball teams remain up in the air, as Benton Smith of KUSports.com reported a KU spokesperson said the men's basketball team has not withdrawn from the NCAA tournament.

The step comes after numerous conference tournaments were canceled in an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19. The ACC, Big 12, SEC, Big East and Pac-12 all announced Thursday they were calling off the remainder of their basketball events.

NCAA President Mark Emmert announced Wednesday the men's and women's basketball tournaments were set to begin as scheduled but would be closed off to fans. Only "essential staff" and limited family members are permitted to attend games.

Since the First Four tips off Tuesday, the decisions by Kansas and Duke will raise further doubt regarding the likelihood of the NCAA tournament going on as planned. San Diego State, the sixth-ranked team in the country, also announced it was suspending winter sports activities through at least the weekend.

According to CNN, more than 124,000 people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus worldwide, and at least 4,600 people have died.

The spread of the virus has had a domino effect on the sports landscape across the country.

The NBA and NHL have suspended play indefinitely, and MLS is on hold for at least 30 days. ESPN's Jeff Passan reported MLB "is expected to suspend spring training" and "likely will delay the beginning of the regular season as well."