Coaches and players are being warned by tournament officials to take extra precautions after at least nine people have fallen ill at the NCAA women’s regional in Austin, Texas.
On Tuesday morning, the University of Texas director of events instructed coaches to have their players wash their hands and use hand sanitizer regularly. Staff members cleaned all of the spigots of the water coolers and ice chests, and housekeeping services at the team hotel sanitized all of the rooms.
But by then, the mysterious virus had already taken a toll.
East Carolina was disqualified from advancing to the NCAA Championship on Tuesday after only two players were healthy enough to compete.
Baylor coach Jay Goble said that his assistant coach also got the stomach bug and was unable to make it to the course for the second round.
When reached Tuesday night, Florida coach Emily Glaser said she had just dropped off her assistant coach at the hospital.
Golfweek reported that Arkansas’ fifth player, Cara Gorlei, was flanked by her coach and trainer throughout her round of 3-over 75. Her teammates picked up the slack, with the Razorbacks posting the low round of the day, a 17-under 271, to move 11 shots clear of the field.
The reason for the outbreak remains unclear, but over the past few weeks the norovirus recently affected more than a hundred people in the area.
A University of Texas official said that four players – three from East Carolina and one from Miami – were unable to compete Tuesday because of illness. He added that all of the affected players, even those who did not play Tuesday, were expected to compete in the final round.
"It's pretty crazy," Glaser said. "No one really knows what it is or the cause. Lots of speculation."
An NCAA spokesman said early Wednesday morning that it was looking into the matter and did not have any additional comment.
The top six teams after Wednesday's final round advance to the NCAA Championship in two weeks in Stillwater, Okla. It's a tight race in the regional, as top-seeded Arkansas and host Texas are the only teams under par. The next six teams are separated by five shots.