The Latest: Pitino, Iona pause, no games until MAAC tourney

Iona’s first season under Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino is halted again, this time until the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament in March

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Iona’s first season under Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino is halted again, this time until the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament.

The Gaels, who recently returned from the longest pause in Division I this season, announced Monday they won’t be able to play their final five conference games because of a positive COVID-19 result by a Tier I member of the program. Subsequent quarantine and isolation protocols left them without the required number of players.

Iona returned from a 51-day pause on Feb. 12 against Manhattan, its first game since Dec. 23. That was supposed to begin a stretch of 10 games in 22 days before the MAAC Tournament in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Pitino said he had tested positive during the previous pause, estimating that about half the team has had the coronavirus this season. Iona hired the winner of national championships at Kentucky and Louisville last March, during an outbreak of the virus in Iona’s city of New Rochelle, New York.

The Gaels swept Monmouth over the weekend and were scheduled to play Marist on Wednesday.

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Julius “Dr. J” Erving is the latest NBA legend to reveal that he’s gotten vaccinated against the coronavirus, doing so Monday. Much like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Gregg Popovich and Bill Russell before him, Erving made the announcement in the form of a video distributed through the league.

“We were never afraid to take the big shot,” Erving said in the video.

Erving turned 71 on Monday, meaning he is well within the current age guidelines for vaccine eligibility as established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The video he appears in also includes short clips of Jerry West, Dave Bing and Wayne Embry receiving their vaccinations.

The league has released these videos in an effort to help encourage the public to receive the vaccine when they are eligible and it is available in their community.

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Fans will be allowed to attend sports and entertainment events at New Jersey’s largest facilities in limited numbers starting next week, Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday.

New Jersey venues with an indoor seating capacity of 5,000 or more will be allowed to have 10% of those seats occupied by fans starting on March 1, the Democratic governor said on the WFAN sports radio station.

For outdoor venues with over 5,000 seats, the number will be 15% of capacity.

Murphy said he decided to allow the limited in-person attendance after reviewing a vast array of coronavirus-related statistics, including hospitalizations, the number of hospital admissions versus discharges, overall positivity rate for COVID-19 and the rate of transmission, and determining that small crowds can be permitted safely.

He said face coverings and social distancing will be required at these venues.

“If you buy tickets together, you can sit together, but otherwise, we have to spread apart,” he said.

The order applies to the state’s major arenas, including the Prudential Center in Newark, where the NHL’s New Jersey Devils play, and outdoor stadiums, including MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, home to the NFL’s New York Giants and Jets.

The governor said about 1,700 to 1,800 fans should be allowed to attend Devils hockey games under the new rules.

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

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