Yeshiva U team: Hotel cancels reservation over virus fears

Yeshiva University Maccabees huddle around guard Ryan Turell (11) before a game against the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA), in New York, Feb. 25, 2020. The Maccabees won the Skyline Conference quarterfinal 75-57. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

A hotel in a Baltimore suburb on Thursday canceled the reservation of the Yeshiva University men's basketball team over fears of novel coronavirus, the coach of the Maccabees told The Associated Press.

Later Thursday, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore said the games on campus involving Yeshiva and other teams in the NCAA Division III basketball tournament would be played without fans in the stands because of three confirmed cases of coronavirus in Maryland.

Yeshiva coach Elliot Steinmetz said the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Pikesville canceled the reservation, forcing the team to book rooms at a different hotel. A student at the Orthodox Jewish university has tested positive for the virus.

“I made it very clear to the hotel that it’s discrimination,” Steinmetz said. "I basically said to them: ‘Do you have a checkbox on your website that says that you’ve been in an area with suspected coronavirus?’ And they said no. So I said: ‘Is it just for the guests of Yeshiva University?’ And they said yes. I told them that that’s called discrimination.”

Hilton spokeswoman Laura Ford said the hotel in Pikesville is an independently owned and operated property. Hotel management did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

The team is scheduled to play Worcester Polytechnic Institute Friday in the first round of the Division III tournament. The winner would advance to play the winner of the later Friday game between Johns Hopkins and Penn State Harrisburg on Saturday.

“In light of Maryland's recently confirmed cases of COVID-19, and based on CDC guidance for large gatherings, we have determined that it is prudent to hold this tournament without spectators,” Johns Hopkins said in a statement late Thursday.

The decision followed Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan's announcement that three people in the state had tested positive for coronavirus after traveling abroad. Hogan said the three, all of whom live in the Washington suburbs, were isolated in their homes and in good condition.