Duke won't have fans for college basketball games due to coronavirus

The Cameron Crazies have been sidelined as collegiate sports continue to wrestle with the impact of the coronavirus.

Duke announced Tuesday that it will not have fans at Cameron Indoor Stadium for men's and women's basketball home games, silencing one of the game's most historic and frenzied venues.

The school had not allowed fans at home football games, either.

"As Duke University continues to be an industry leader per providing a safe environment for intercollegiate athletic competition, the decision to maintain our non-spectator protocol is imperative for the overall health and safety of the Blue Devil fan base, student-athletes, coaches and support staff, notwithstanding the immediate campus population comprised of students, faculty and staff," athletic director Kevin White said in a statement. "We will continue to embrace the challenges of this unique if not unprecedented time with flexibility and compliance, and can't begin to thank our dedicated, passionate fans enough for their unbridled support."

The school also announced its ACC schedule. Men's games against North Carolina will take place on Feb. 6 (home) and March 6 (road).

A trip to a Duke home basketball game is a bucket-list item for college basketball fans. Although capacity for the venue is 9,314, it feels like you're surrounded by 100,000 people in the building, as the Cameron Crazies, one of the top student sections in the country, hug the sideline.

Health officials have discussed concerns about the spread of the virus at indoor basketball games. The NCAA's coronavirus protocol lists basketball as a high-risk sport, a designation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and recommends that teams quarantine for 14 days whenever a player, coach or staffer tests positive. Multiple programs around the country have already endured long quarantines before the season.

On Monday, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo announced he'd tested positive for the virus. He can return on Nov. 17 after isolating for 10 days. Connecticut paused team activities after a positive test last week.

With two weeks to go until the start of college basketball on Nov. 25, multiple programs around the country have not yet completed their schedules or finalized plans for testing because of the virus.

"When games take place in communities that have a high level of COVID transmission, it makes it more likely that a fan has it and doesn't know," said Jaimie Meyer, an infectious disease doctor at Yale. "I really find it hard to imagine a scenario where it will be safe to have fans [in college basketball], even if they're wearing masks and distanced."