COVID-19's impact on JMU athletics

James Madison University athletics is dealing with effects of COVID-19.
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HARRISONBURG, Va. -- At James Madison University, athletic venues and practice facilities are empty.

"All of our athletics facilities are closed," said Kevin Warner, who serves as Assistant A.D. for Communications at JMU. "Student-athletes can't even workout on campus in any of our facilities."

The Colonial Athletic Association recently announced all spring sports activities were cancelled for the 2020 season in an effort to prevent further spread of COVID-19. The CAA's announcement effectively ended all spring sports competition at JMU.

With no athletic competition and online classes set to begin next week, currently the main focus of the athletic department is to communicate with student-athletes and make sure they have proper information when it comes to academics, athletic training, and personal health.

"Making sure everyone is ready Monday to jump back into class mode," said Warner. "And maybe before that is everyone's personal health. Making sure student-athletes are well, they have resources to recognize symptoms of the virus. That they know if they see any of the symptoms, what is their next step...we want to make sure they have the education they need to keep themselves well."

Warner went on to say JMU is awaiting more information from the NCAA in regards to eligibility for spring athletes. The NCAA recently announced eligibility relief is appropriate for those spring athletes whose season was cancelled but specific details have yet to be announced.

While competition is currently on hold at JMU, the search for the next men's basketball head coach at James Madison is still underway and an official announcement from athletic director Jeff Bourne could be coming soon.

"I don't think, right now, there is a significant change in timeline," said Warner. "We are still optimistic that we'll be able to stay on the same targeted 2-3 week outline from when from the time that Coach Rowe was released...so that would put us in another week or two."

Whoever is named head coach for JMU men's basketball will have the opportunity to coach in the Dukes' new basketball arena, the Atlantic Union Bank Center, which is currently under construction. As of now, the arena is still scheduled to open on time for the upcoming 2020-2021 season.

"Right now, it's business as usual," said Warner, when discussing the new basketball arena. "Certainly with the fluidity of the situation that could change...but as right now there is no impact (from COVID-19)."

There's also no impact expected, as of now, for the 2020-2021 sports calendar at JMU. However, as new information is released daily about COVID-19, that could change.

"We're not there yet, we're not jumping ahead of things," said Warner. "But I think we also just need to be realistic that we don't know."