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Column: NCAA needs to stop the Madness amid coronavirus outbreak

NCAA needs to cancel March Madness this year, writes columnist Dylan Hernandez.
NCAA needs to cancel March Madness this year, writes columnist Dylan Hernandez.
(Morry Gash / Associated Press)

Hello, Mark Emmert?

Is anyone home?

With the Pac-12 joining several other conferences Thursday morning in canceling its men’s basketball tournament, the scrapping of the NCAA tournament feels inevitable.

The governing bodies of collegiate sports have been painfully slow to react to the rapidly escalating coronavirus crisis, which speaks to their misplaced priorities.

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So much for their concerns about the so-called student-athletes.

This isn’t as much about the people in charge as much as what these organizations have become: money-making machines beholden to commercial interests.

Pac-12 Commissoner Larry Scott had to know by Wednesday what he had to do, just as Emmert, the president of the NCAA, knows now that he has no choice but to shut down March Madness.

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The widespread economic ramifications of such decisions are widespread enough to make people like Scott and Emmert reactionaries rather than the leaders they should be. Then again, that’s almost certainly why they hold their positions in the first place.

The situation has become completely farcical. Many of its member schools have canceled in-person classes. Professional sports leagues have suspended their seasons. What argument could the NCAA possibly make at this point to defend staging its national basketball tournament?

About the only defense the NCAA could make is that it’s teaching its “student-athletes” a valuable lesson in hypocrisy.


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