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Report: NCAA Bent March Madness COVID-19 Testing Rules

March 17, 2021

The National Collegiate Athletic Association allowed Iona College’s men’s basketball team to sidestep written coronavirus testing protocols for players, coaches and other members of team travel parties arriving in Indianapolis for the Division I men’s March Madness tournament, The New York Times reported.

The protocols require teams competing in the Division I men’s and women’s basketball championship to quarantine upon arrival to the tournament site “until two consecutive tests on separate days are confirmed negative” and wait to hold practices until those results are in. However, Iona’s team arrived in the early-morning hours of March 14, were tested once upon arrival and performed the second tests during the afternoon on the same day, the Times reported. They were able to practice the same day they arrived.

The NCAA said in a statement to the Times Monday that it would allow teams arriving at their hotels late at night to leave quarantine after two negative COVID-19 tests, administered at least 12 hours apart. Players and other members of team travel parties for both the men’s and women’s tournaments were also required to have negative COVID-19 tests for seven straight days before traveling to Indianapolis or Texas, where the women’s events will be held, according to the published NCAA protocols.

The association did not tell the Times when it changed the policy to a 12-hour minimum or why the published protocols do not include the minimum, the Times report said. During a media briefing Tuesday morning, Dan Gavitt, NCAA senior vice president of basketball, reiterated the 12-hour minimum.

Later on Tuesday, the NCAA announced there were five positive COVID-19 tests out of the 2,300 tests performed on people taking part in the tournament, which could include events and venue staff, referees, NCAA staff members, or the teams themselves. Six referees were pulled from the men’s tournament due to one person’s positive test result and five people determined to have close contact with them, according to an association press release.

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