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Report: Six NCAA Men's Tournament Referees Rules Out, in COVID-19 Protocols

Six of the top referees for this year's NCAA men's basketball tournament have been removed from March Madness after one tested positive for COVID-19, according to Stadium's Jeff Goodman. The positive test came directly after a group of officials went out to dinner. 

In a normal year, there are 100 referees for March Madness but instead, 60 were brought to Indianapolis for this year's tournament. The officials were told to report to their hotels by Sunday night and to not leave unless it was to the arena. 

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But multiple officials said that their rooms were not ready and there was no food when they arrived to check in. So, a group of officials, including Ted Valentine, John Higgins, Roger Ayers, John Gaffney, Kipp Kissinger and Ray Natili went to Harry & Izzy’s Steakhouse in downtown Indianapolis for dinner. 

They subsequently took COVID-19 tests when they returned to the hotel and one official tested positive, according to Stadium. The same official also tested positive twice on Monday morning. 

The Indiana Department of Health deemed all six officials could not work in the men's tournament because they were all eating together and not wearing masks. 

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