Duke, Kansas among school suspending sports, putting NCAA tournament in doubt

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the school that holds the longest active streak of NCAA tournament appearances. Kansas holds that mark with 30 consecutive seasons.

Duke and Kansas, which are home to two of college basketball's elite programs, were among the schools that have decided to suspend all athletic activities indefinitely due to health concerns around the spread of the coronavirus, adding further doubt as to whether the NCAA men's and women's tournaments will begin as planned next week.

"Our highest priority at Kansas athletics is to ensure the safety and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and staff," Kansas athletics director Jeff Long said in a statement. "Based on the recommendation of our medical professionals, we have canceled all athletic travel indefinitely. In addition, all home and away athletic events have been suspended indefinitely."

Kansas forward Udoka Azubuike keeps the ball from Texas Tech defenders during the second half at United Supermarkets Arena. (Photo: Michael C. Johnson, USA TODAY Sports)

In a statement posted to its university website, Duke announced it is suspending all athletic competition for the foreseeable future.

“We are taking this action to protect the safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and others who are essential to these activities,” said Duke President Vincent E. Price. “I know it is a great disappointment to our student-athletes and coaches, whose hard work and dedication to their sports and Duke is inspirational to so many, but we must first look out for their health and well-being."

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Kansas was seen as the potential top overall seed entering the men's tournament, which was scheduled to begin on March 17, and owns the longest active streak of NCAA appearances in Division I. Duke finished the regular season second in the ACC and has reached the tournament 24 years in a row under longtime coach Mike Krzyzewski.

“During this unpredictable time, Duke Athletics fully supports all measures to protect the health and welfare of the Duke family and beyond,” said Duke athletics director Kevin White, who is also the chairman of NCAA men's tournament committee.

The Jayhawks and Blue Devils were due to play in their respective conference tournament play before the Big 12 and ACC canceled events, joined by every other Division I league still deciding its tournament champion. The last major holdout, the Big East, canceled its tournament at halftime of the first of two scheduled games on Thursday.

With Duke and Kansas likely unable to participate when the men's tournament is scheduled to start next week, there is pressure on the NCAA to either cancel or postpone the event. 

West Virginia and Washington State also announced the suspension of their athletics teams Thursday. The Mountaineers are in position to receive an at-large berth to the men's field.

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