Southern University’s scheduled baseball series with Arkansas-Pine Bluff has been canceled due to concerns about coronavirus, Southern athletic director Roman Banks confirmed Thursday.
The SWAC office also announced the cancellation of the remainder of the SWAC men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff, a SWAC opponent, was scheduled to travel to Baton Rouge for games Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. but the school announced it was suspending all campus activities and university-related travel until March 30.
“We have canceled the baseball series this weekend and are considering suspending spring sports to give ourselves a chance to work through the process with the conference office and university,” Banks said. “There are a lot of things going on and things are changing every day.
In a statement by UAPB released on Wednesday, A potential case of the virus was detected at Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Pine Bluff, and two faculty members and 11 student nurses are believed to have had contact with he patient that tested positive.
The following is an excerpt from a statement issued by UAPB:
“All scheduled campus activities, including student programs, and athletic events are canceled until Monday, March 30. All university-related travel by employees or students is likewise suspended. Mid-terms will be rescheduled after face-to-face classes resume.
“A potential case of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was identified at Jefferson Regional Medical Center (JRMC) in Pine Bluff and a test has been sent to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for testing as a possible case of COVID-19. The case is being treated by the Arkansas Department of Health as presumed positive. The CDC test could be officially confirmed within three to four days.
“Eleven nursing students participating in clinicals and two faculty members are believed to have had indirect contact with the patient who tested positive. Arkansas Department of Health Director Nate Smith says the university risk to faculty, staff and students is low, however, the institution will err on the side of caution and start online delivery of courses.”
Southern baseball coach Kerrick Jackson said he was disappointed for his team but realizes the gravity and the nature of the overall situation.
“We’ve got 18-22 year olds that believe they’re invincible,” he said. “It’s completely understandable. It will be interesting to see what happens next.”
Banks said Southern’s tennis and track teams are on the road and may be called home at a later time.
The SWAC basketball tournaments began on Tuesday and the Southern men won their first round games Tuesday. The men beat Alabama State, 67-53, and the women defeated Prairie View, 59-55. They were scheduled to play second round games Friday.
“In the best interest of the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, event staff and fans this decision was ultimately one that we had no other choice but to make,” said SWAC Commissioner Dr. Charles McClelland.