Alabama basketball fan’s death prompts COVID-19 contact tracing in Indianapolis

Following the death of a noted Alabama basketball fan, the Marion County health department is investigating whether anyone who was in Indianapolis for the NCAA men’s tournament last weekend was exposed to the coronavirus by any Alabama resident.

The Tuscaloosa News reported that Luke Ratliff, a 23-year old Alabama student, died on Friday from complications related to COVID-19. The paper reported he attended Alabama’s game against UCLA at Hinkle Fieldhouse last weekend and then returned to Tuscaloosa shortly after. Ratliff was then hospitalized earlier this week with an illness. He was a well-known fan known as “Fluffopotamus,” familiar to many in his plaid jacket this season and the leader of the Crimson Chaos basketball campus support group.

The Marion County Public Health Department confirmed to ESPN in a statement Saturday that it had reached out to the Alabama Department of Public Health.

“Based on a recent news story, the Marion County Public Health Department and the Indiana State Department of Health are contacting the Alabama Department of Public Health to determine if anyone in Indianapolis may have been exposed to COVID-19 by any Alabama resident who visited Indianapolis in recent days,” the county said in a statement provided by the NCAA. “We are conducting an investigation following the county and state’s standard contact tracing procedures.”

The NCAA did not immediately respond to ESPN’s request for comment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.