Navy athletics will continue to host contests while implementing safety measures

Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. Md., in a 2015 photo.


By BILL WAGNER | The Capital | Published: March 12, 2020

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Tribune News Service) — Naval Academy athletic director Chet Gladchuk repeatedly used the terms “reasonable precautions” and “mitigating factors” when discussing the institution’s response to the rapidly evolving coronavirus crisis.

While other colleges and conferences are canceling entire seasons, the Naval Academy Athletic Association plans to continue holding varsity competitions. However, Navy did announce on Wednesday that several precautions will be put into place to help ensure the safety of fans and student-athletes.

Starting with this Saturday’s men’s lacrosse game against Johns Hopkins, which begins at noon at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, the following precautions will be in place:

— No admission will be charged at the next two men’s lacrosse games. Fans who have already purchased tickets for the Johns Hopkins game on Saturday and the Holy Cross game on March 21 will be refunded through the Navy ticket office.

— Concessions will not be available at any varsity athletic event.

— Parking will be free at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium for all athletic events.

— All community outreach events have been postponed until further notice (no autographs).

— The lower level of both the Blue and Gold side of Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium will be open for home lacrosse games.

— No postgame social gatherings are permitted that host midshipmen.

NAAA will reevaluate all those steps on April 1 after continuing to closely monitor the situation. Gladchuk announced that Navy athletics will also consider recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the Anne Arundel County Department of Public Health.

“We will work together with campus officials to make any additional changes deemed in the best interest of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans,” Gladchuk said in a statement.

Contacted by The Capital on Wednesday night, Gladchuk said the measures put in place for the Johns Hopkins-Navy men’s lacrosse game were all designed to “reduce or eliminate personal and physical contact.”

Not charging for parking or selling tickets prevents the exchange of cash or handling of credit cards, both of which could potentially spread the virus.

A “Meet the Mids” promotion had been planned for after the Hopkins-Navy lacrosse game. Members of the Navy lacrosse team were going to great fans and sign autographs. That promotion has been canceled.

Opening the lower decks on both sides of Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium enables fans to spread out as much as they feel is necessary.

“We have tried to create an environment on Saturday in which people can watch the game while having plenty of space,” Gladchuk said. “We feel we’ve addressed this issue in a reasonable and logical manner. Fans attending Saturday’s lacrosse game will have a 34,000-seat facility to find some dimension of being comfortable with their space.”

Earlier Wednesday, the Ivy League announced it is canceling all spring sports for the remainder of the season. Gladchuk declined to comment specifically on the Ivy League decision but did feel all directives should come from the NCAA.

On Wednesday, the NCAA announced that fans would not be allowed to attend any sporting events sponsored by the organization for an indefinite time period. That decision dramatically impacts the NCAA Tournaments for men’s and women’s basketball, which are slated to begin next week.

“It seems to me the NCAA, which is the governing body of all intercollegiate athletics, is already addressing this issue in a number of ways,” Gladchuk said. “Canceling an entire season is a very drastic measure. I would hope all the various conferences would consider mitigation measures before making such a significant decision.”

Gladchuk noted that is exactly what the Naval Academy Athletic Association has done in the short term, favoring “reasonable mitigation” over “complete cancelation.”

Navy wrestling is slated to send several competitors to the NCAA championship meet, being held March 19-21 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Gladchuk said Navy intends to send additional personnel along with its wrestlers to mitigate the risk of their participation.

Special attention will be paid to personal hygiene and washing uniforms, towels and head gear. Navy staff members will work with the medical professionals on site at the NCAA wrestling championships to follow best practices for reducing the risk of infection.

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