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Six officials ruled out for NCAA Tournament

/ 05:59 PM March 16, 2021
NCAA college basketball

FILE – In this March 12, 2020, file photo, the seating area at Bankers Life Fieldhouse is viewed in Indianapolis after the Big Ten Conference announced that remainder of the men’s NCAA college basketball games tournament was canceled. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

Six officials have been ruled out for the NCAA Tournament because of COVID-19 health and safety protocols, the NCAA announced in a statement Monday night.

The statement read in part, “One official tested positive March 15, and five other officials the person interacted with the day before were identified as exposure risks due to prolonged close contact. Based on tournament protocols and contract tracing with local public health authorities, these officials may not participate in the tournament.

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“The infected official must be placed in isolation, and the other officials must be placed in quarantine. Four replacement officials have been previously approved and meet the pre-tournament testing protocols. Two of the officials will not be replaced.”

According to Stadium, the six officials involved are Ted Valentine, John Higgins, Roger Ayers, John Gaffney, Kipp Kissinger and Ray Natili.

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Stadium and CBS Sports reported that the officials arrived to Indianapolis on Sunday, but their hotel rooms were not available upon their arrival and no food was available on hand. The officials were allowed to go to a nearby restaurant while they waited on their rooms.

After returning to the hotel, the six took their COVID-19 tests, and one person tested positive. He tested positive again Monday.

Per the reports, the Indiana Department of Health ruled the other five officials ineligible to work the tournament because they all ate dinner together, unmasked, with the official who tested positive.

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TAGS: Basketball, COVID-19, John Gaffney, John Higgins, Kipp Kissinger, March Madness, NCAA Tournament, pandemic, Ray Natili., Roger Ayers, Ted Valentine
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