The WIAA state boys basketball tournament will remain at the Kohl Center on the University of Wisconsin campus next week, but the crowd size will be limited and general admission tickets will not be available due to concerns about the COVID-19 coronavirus situation.
A conference call with WIAA officials and the university had been scheduled for Thursday morning and a statement then was released by UW-Madison.
According to the statement: "With the health of student athletes and their families, spectators, and the greater community in mind, general admission tickets will not be available for the WIAA Boys State Basketball tournament. The tournament is scheduled for March 19-21 at the Kohl Center on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. While competition is expected to continue, teams will be allotted a specified number of tickets per roster member.
"This decision has been made in consultation with local and state public health officials to discourage and limit large gatherings on campuses in light of the COVID-19 situation. The limit on the number of tickets is designed to reflect social distancing recommendations from public health officials.
"Tickets will be given to each team for distribution.
"UW-Madison discourages non-essential personal travel. All spectators should stay educated and use caution when considering travel.
"Older adults and people with serious chronic medical conditions may be at higher risk of getting sick from COVID-19, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Everyone is asked to stay informed and use their best judgment when deciding to attend the event.
"The State Boys & Girls Basketball Tournaments will be televised and streamed live. More information and local listings can be found on the WIAA website.
"All policies and operations related to this event are subject to change based on the ongoing monitoring of COVID-19. Updates will be shared via the WIAA and UW-Madison."
The WIAA then released a statement, saying "The WIAA, in accordance with policies and guidance from public health organizations and the World Health Organization for mass gatherings, will be limiting attendance at the remainder of all winter tournament events scheduled this week and March 19-21.
"The guidelines for mass gatherings calls for restriction of public events to 50-250 attendees, depending on the event and venue. This pandemic has created unprecedented circumstances that make these decisions and actions prudent and necessary."
In a statement, WIAA executive director Dave Anderson said: “The WIAA has been keeping up with public health and medical updates and has recognized the changing environment over the past 24 hours,. As good and responsible citizens, we are adhering to policies consistent to preventing the spread of COVID-19.”
According to the WIAA, the policy limits attendance at the state tournament to 88 tickets per team, two supervisors and a limit of 22 team personnel. In addition, the boys and girls 3-Point Challenge competitions scheduled for Saturday will be held with participants and one chaperone allowed
According to the statement, "Contest officials, timer, scorekeeper, announcer, team host, WIAA staff, WIAA athletic trainers and Board of Control members deemed essential to the administration of the tournament are permitted.
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"Cheerleaders, pep bands, school photographers, videographers and on-site sponsors will be prohibited.
"The live television broadcast of the State Tournament will be available; however, limited radio stations will be given clearance to broadcast. Press accommodations will be restricted to either a small pool that would provide copy to the state or to one reporter per school team.
"Tickets for the WIAA Girls and Boys State Basketball Tournaments, except the party of 88 immediate family members, will be refunded in full. Please allow staff time to make these refunds and contact the WIAA office only if you do not see a refund to your account within two weeks of the tournament.
"Any tickets purchased at school for the State Girls Basketball Tournament will we be refunded by the school and not the Resch Center or the WIAA."
As of late Wednesday night, next week's WIAA state boys basketball tournament remained scheduled for the Kohl Center, though it is viewed as a fluid situation because of the COVID-19 coronavirus situation.
Late Wednesday night amid conflicting reports about whether the boys tournament would be played at the Kohl Center next week (March 19-21), WIAA communications director Todd Clark messaged a response to the State Journal:
"The State Boys Basketball Tournament is still scheduled to be played next week at the Kohl Center. More information will be available tomorrow (Thursday), and this is a continuously fluid situation."
UW-Madison Media tweeted: "UW statement: UW has been in contact and conversation with @wiaawi Wed. to discuss how the boys state tournament can continue at the Kohl Center. We are unaware of any plans by WIAA to cancel the event or hold it elsewhere."
UW is limiting crowd size (essential staff, limited number of family) at Saturday's NCAA women's hockey playoff game at LaBahn Arena, raising speculation whether that would be the case at the boys tournament and whether the WIAA would remain at the Kohl Center or seek another venue. The boys tournament is a chief revenue producer for the organization.
Wednesday afternoon, the WIAA announced in a statement that the state girls basketball tournament at the Resch Center in Ashwaubenon and the boys basketball sectionals scheduled for this week will continue as planned.
According to the release from Clark: “The WIAA Executive Staff has been in continuous discussions with local and state health officials and organizations, as well as other high school associations in the Midwest. We continue to look at all the medical evidence and breaking information regarding COVID-19 to make the best decision possible with the information available to us.
“While circumstances may change, all of the leading health resources we have been working with indicate the best way to proceed is to be overcautious and reinforce the universal guidance and precautions to know your health risk, especially those at higher risk for severe illness; wash hands repeatedly with soap or sanitizer; cover your sneeze or cough; keep hands away from your face; and if you feel sick, stay at home.”
Also the WIAA said: “We will continue to monitor any new information, and if anything changes with our Tournament Series events, we will issue a statement.”
The girls basketball tournament is Thursday through Saturday at the Resch Center.
Boys sectional semifinals and finals are Wednesday (today) through Saturday.
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