The NCAA announced on Wednesday that the upcoming men's and women's basketball tournaments will have limited attendance due to coronavirus concerns. The organization will be closing the games to the public and only allowing in essential staff and limited family attendance.
"The NCAA continues to assess the impact of COVID-19 in consultation with public health officials and our COVID-19 advisory panel. Based on their advice and my discussions with the NCAA Board of Governors, I have made the decision to conduct our upcoming championship events, including the Division I men's and women's basketball tournaments, with only essential staff and limited family attendance," NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement. "
While I understand how disappointing this is for all fans of our sports, my decision is based on the current understanding of how COVID-19 is progressing in the United States. This decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and, most importantly, our student-athletes. We recognize the opportunity to compete in an NCAA national championship is an experience of a lifetime for the students and their families. Today, we will move forward and conduct championships consistent with the current information and will continue to monitor and make adjustments as needed."
This decision follows a trend set by the Ivy League after it canceled the men's and women's basketball tournaments due to safety and health concerns. The league will be automatically moving Yale to the men's tournament after the regular-season championship victory. Princeton will have a berth in the women's tournament.
The first four games of the men's tournament are scheduled to be held in Dayton, Ohio on Tuesday, March 17 and Wednesday, March 18. The state made a decree that banned gatherings of large groups, so these games were not expected to have attendance. Now the rest of the tournament will follow suit.
The NCAA initially recommended that sporting events not be open to the public due to safety and health concerns. However, the various conferences made the respective decisions to either ban or allow fans for each championship game.
This upcoming tournament will not be the only sporting event affected by the coronavirus. The Golden State Warriors announced on Wednesday that their games on Thursday and Saturday will be played without fans in attendance. Additionally, all events at the Chase Center in San Francisco up to March 21 will either be postponed or canceled.
(Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)