NIH director recommends NBA close out fans from games

The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told a congressional committee Wednesday that he would recommend the NBA not allow fans at games in response to the coronavirus.

That answer by Dr. Anthony Fauci came hours before NBA owners are scheduled to meet to discuss the next steps in responding to the growing concern about the virus.

Fauci was responding to a question from Rep. Glenn Grothman, a Wisconsin Republican, during a meeting of the House Oversight Committee.

"Is the NBA underreacting or is the Ivy League overreacting?" Grothman asked, referencing how the Ivy League recently canceled its basketball tournaments instead of having them played without fans in attendance or keeping the status quo.

"We would recommend that there not be large crowds," Fauci said. "If that means not having any people in the audience when the NBA plays, so be it. But as a public health official, anything that has crowds is something that would give a risk to spread."

Sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski on Tuesday that the NBA board of governors has a scheduled conference call with the commissioner's office Wednesday. The call is expected to include one designated ownership representative of each team, sources said. There are two additional calls set for Thursday for team presidents and general managers, sources said.

The NBA is discussing a number of possibilities, including moving some games to NBA cities that have yet to suffer outbreaks, eliminating fans from buildings for games or, more drastically, suspending game operations for a period of time.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.