DALLAS - A local college athlete has been asked to join an NCAA panel to come up with ways to protect athletes and fans from the coronavirus.
Professional sports leagues have already started taking steps in that direction.
A UTD student has been selected as one of four student athletes in the country for a COVID-19 panel.
His job will be to help keep college students and their families across America safe.
“While I'm grateful to be on the panel, it’s kind of my duty as a student athlete. That’s how I feel,” said Isaiah Swann.
Swann, a UTD senior, is one of the 460,000 NCAA student athletes.
He plays third base for UTD's baseball team, but this week, he’s taking on a new position by advising a panel of experts about how to prepare for the coronavirus.
“Our primary role as a panel is to provide recommendations regarding championships and competition,” he explained. “Various aspects of the events, such as, like how the logistics will change if there is a virus. How travel changes, things like that.”
Swann, along with three other college athletes, will report to the NCAA’s COVID-19 advisory panel of medical experts to help create guidelines for how the world of college sports will respond to a coronavirus outbreak.
It comes as March Madness, the popular NCAA men's and women’s basketball tournament, is fast approaching.
“Final 4, March Madness. All of that stuff coming up. We just want to make sure that we’re getting out ahead of this thing,” Swann said.
Organized sports leagues across the globe face the same challenge to protect athletes and fans.
The Dallas Mavericks announced they're discontinuing indefinitely, the “High-Five Tunnel,” where players interact with VIPs and kids before games.
That's on top of the NBA advising teams this week to use fist bumps instead of high-fives, and refrain from handling items from fans trying to get autographs.
In Italy, where the coronavirus death toll has surpassed 100, some professional soccer matches have been cancelled.
But moving forward, professional sports teams will still compete, but no fans will be allowed into the venues.
Swann, who is majoring in neuroscience, previously served on a committee about competitive safeguards and medical aspects of sports.
“There needs to be a discussion surrounding, “Hey, how do we protect all of these people and ensure that they’ll be able to come to this competition and leave this competition healthy?’” Swann added.
Swann said he’ll use the NCAA Division III tournament games being held at UTD this weekend as an opportunity to brainstorm ideas to share with the panel.