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The NCAA Tournament will go on without fans in attendance

NCAA President Mark Emmert released a statement on Wednesday

Coronavirus Cases Causes Johns Hopkins To Ban Fans At NCAA Division III Basketball Tournament Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

All across the country, governing bodies are trying to figure out the best courses of action in order to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. Just a couple of days after many colleges in the state of Ohio have closed their doors in favor of online classes — including Ohio State — Governor Mike DeWine took things a step further, ordering that no indoor events be allowed spectators other than athletes, parents, and ‘those essential to the game.’ DeWine later clarified that media would still be allowed in attendance to cover the games.

While everyones health and wellbeing obviously comes first, this is clearly very unfortunate timing. This order will impact various Ohio State spring sports as well as Columbus Blue Jackets games and potentially Cleveland Cavaliers games, but on a more national scale the NCAA Tournament.

In terms of the impact on Ohio State athletics specifically, it appears as though this will affect the men’s hockey team’s Big Ten Tournament semifinal game against Michigan this Sunday, which is slated to take place at Nationwide Arena. At this time, it is not clear whether or not the Buckeyes will still host their annual spring game, scheduled for April 11. While the current order is only for indoor sporting events, precautions surrounding outdoor events are still to be determined.

Just one hour after the announcement by DeWine, the NCAA itself released a statement that all NCAA Tournament games will be closed to the public. Much like DeWine’s original outline for Ohio-specific events, only essential staff and limited family members will be allowed to attend games. While DeWine’s decree would bar fans from the First Four games in Dayton and first two rounds in Cleveland, the new NCAA ruling will keep fans out of arenas across the country.

Ohio State itself has announced a hiatus of scheduling “new, non-essential events,” and is asking event organizers to determine if certain in-person meetings are absolutely necessary. As of Wednesday afternoon, the school has not announced any postponements or cancellations of athletic events.

The Big Ten Conference also released a statement on Wednesday saying that as of right now, games will continue normally as planned in regards to the conference tournament. However, this statement came before the NCAA overarching ruling, and it is unclear if that will still be the case moving forward.

UPDATE: On Wednesday afternoon, the Big Ten released a statement that beginning on Thursday, March 12, all Big Ten Tournament games will be played without fans in attendance. Doors will only be open to “student-athletes, coaches, event staff, essential team and Conference staff, TV network partners, credentialed media, and immediate family members of the participating teams.”

In addition, all other Big Ten Conference winter and spring sporting events, including championships and tournaments, will see attendance limited to the same groups of people.

In much more positive news, legendary Ohio State running back Keith Byars was selected as a 2020 College Football Hall of Fame inductee on Wednesday. The 17 players and two coaches to earn the honor in this year’s class will be officially inducted during the 63rd National Football Foundation Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 8 at the New York Hilton Midtown. These inductees will also be forever immortalized at the Chik-Fil-A College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.

A member of the Ohio State football team from 1982 through 1985, Byars racked up exactly 3,200 yards rushing and 882 yards receiving with 49 total touchdowns. His 1984 season, in which he was the Heisman Trophy runner-up, was his best performance for the Scarlet and Gray. He led the nation that year with nearly 1,800 yards rushing in addition to all-purpose yards (2,441) and total scoring (144).

Byar’s best game that season came against Illinois, wherein he rushed for 274 yards and five touchdowns — tying an OSU single-game record. His performance against Purdue in ‘84 that resulted in 354 all-purpose yards is still a single-game school record to this day. That same year, he helped guide the Buckeyes to a Big Ten title. Overall, Ohio State won three of its four bowl games with Byars on the roster.

The 6-foot-1, 245 pound RB went on to have a successful 13-year career in the NFL, playing for the Philadelphia Eagles, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, and New York Jets. Byars made the Pro Bowl in 1993, and played in Super Bowl XXXI with the Patriots.

Not much of an update in terms of the injury to Kyle Young. Ohio State’s men’s hoops coach Chris Holtmann says the junior forward remains day-to-day, and claims that this designation is not some form of gamesmanship to make it more difficult for opposing teams to game plan.

Young has missed the team’s last four games after suffering an ankle injury in the first period of the Buckeyes’ win over Maryland on Feb. 23. While OSU has managed to go 3-1 in his absence, it has certainly missed his presence on the floor both as the energetic spark and in terms of depth. Ohio State was really put in a bind in their last time out, when some of its poor play against Michigan State can be attributed to foul trouble with a short bench. Still, the Bucks should definitely prepare to be without Young again when it begins its run in the Big Ten Tournament against Purdue on Thursday.

In addition to Young’s potentially absence, the team will also be without D.J. Carton and Alonzo Gaffney. Carton has been away from the team on a leave of absence since Dec. 30, and despite being back on campus at Ohio State, is not allowed to resume basketball activity until he passes an extensive medical protocol. Gaffney, more strangely, has missed the last four games for unspecified, and while Holtmann said he remains part of the team, he is unavailable for the Big Ten Tournament.

Eight Big Ten students from seven different schools across six sports are among the 33 finalists for the 2020 AAU James E. Sullivan Award. Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields was among the conference’s nominees for the honor, presented to most outstanding amateur athlete in the United States.

Named in honor of Sullivan, a founder of the AAU, the award is based on a student-athlete’s qualities of character, leadership, sportsmanship and the ideals of amateurism. In addition to Fields, other notable athletes in contention include Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence, Marquette’s Markus Howard, and Michigan State’s Cassius Winston.

A student from the Big Ten has won the award 12 times in total, including four of the previous six years. Two of those have been from Ohio State, with Ezekiel Elliot bringing it home in 2014 and Kyle Snyder in 2017.

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