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NAIA host cities work with NAIA to welcome championships

03/08/2020, 10:00am CDT
By Sanford Media Relations

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In light of the growing national concern of the spread of the coronavirus, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), in conjunction with its basketball championship hosts, has reiterated its intention to move forward with the NAIA Basketball National Championships, set to tip-off this week in both Sioux Falls, S.D. and Sioux City, Iowa.

Last week, the NAIA issued information to its championship hosts and on-site medical personnel regarding best practices to aid in the continued safety and well-being of its student-athletes.

“We are aware of the concerns around the coronavirus, but we stand ready to host the championship and are excited to get things underway later this week,” said Tim Savona, General Manager of the Tyson Events Center. “In light of the recent news, we are taking extra precautions in terms of cleanliness. We will be cleaning more, disinfecting common touch areas (door handles, hand rails, etc.) multiple times a day, adding additional hand sanitation stations in hallways and are posting signage about hand washing and general best practices from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

The Tyson Events Center has been the long-time host of both the NAIA Women’s Volleyball and Division II Women’s Basketball Championships. Both events are very successful in the communities each year.

“The one thing we want to stress to our community and to fans of these teams is that if you feel sick, please stay home,” said Corey Westra, Co-Tournament Director of the Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship. “We want to provide a safe environment for all, and general health of our fans and workers can be a large factor in our efforts.”

In Sioux Falls, the Sanford Pentagon will again host the NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship for the third consecutive year. An event which has been, by any measure, a great success in that community.

“We are looking forward to getting this year’s NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship underway this Wednesday,” said Thomas Lee, Executive Director of the Sioux Falls Sports Authority. “Due to the recent Coronavirus concerns, the Sanford Pentagon will take additional measures to ensure as clean of an environment as possible for spectators and student-athletes. We are anticipating a fun-filled, action-packed championship that will be memorable for all involved.”

The NAIA released a brief statement early last week to begin addressing the events that have unfolded nationwide and has expanded it to detail specifics with basketball championships on the horizon.

“We are considering multiple contingency plans as this situation evolves,” said Jim Carr, NAIA President and CEO. “The association will continue to be guided by the information available from local, regional, state, and national public health entities. Should circumstances change, we will consider all options, including admissions and seating restrictions as deemed appropriate.

Moving forward, each host has agreed to the following:

Each championship host has agreed to:

  • Increase venue sanitation
  • Public Address announcements reminding all in attendance of the importance of:
    • Frequent hand washing
    • Cough/sneeze etiquette
  • Increase health care presence for the general public in the event of an emergency

Additional resources and education specific to the student-athletes and health care teams at each of our sites include:

  • Increased availability of hand sanitizer
  • Mandated towel service to decrease the person to person contact exposure between student-athletes (handling of bench towels)
  • Increased sanitation practices in each championship athletic training area as well as bench areas
  • Educational tools/resources onsite at each championship athletic training/locker room/student-athlete area

Additionally, the NAIA has provided direction to membership including:

  • Practice good hygiene, specifically hand-washing frequently and covering mouth when sneezing or coughing.
  • If you have a student-athlete whom is ill, they are to remain at home
  • Notify the NAIA of any travel restrictions or limitations that may be in effect for your region
  • No pre-game hand shake with the opponents or officials – use a fist bump or elbow bump instead

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