By Matt Noonan | @NoontimeNation
This year’s NCAA D-I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments won’t look the way they have in the past because none of the upcoming contests will include fans.
Due to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), especially these past few days, the NCAA announced Wednesday afternoon that both tournaments would occur, but not include fans. Teams will play in empty arenas in front of teammates, coaches, essential staff and family members, according to NCAA president Mark Emmert.
In a statement to the public, Emmert confirmed his decision to not allow fans to attend either tournament after consulting with public health officials.
“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,” said Emmert, via today’s release on NCAA.org.
The NCAA President would continue by adding, “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.”
Prior to the NCAA announcing no fans would be allowed to attend this year’s March Madness, the Ivy League canceled its conference tournaments on Tuesday morning, which were scheduled to take place this weekend at Harvard University.
Earlier today, it was announced (and confirmed) that the Golden State Warriors would play against the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, March 12th with no fans in the stands.
This evening, the Big Ten Conference (B10) announced tomorrow’s men’s conference tournament would be limited to student-athletes, coaches, event staff, essential team, and conference members. Additionally, the conference will permit TV network partners, credentialed media, and immediate family members of the participating teams.
Jeff Goodman, who is a basketball analyst for Stadium, reported this evening there are discussions happening about possibly “postponing or evening canceling the NCAA Tournament and Final Four.”
As more information develops and becomes available, we will make sure to update this post and our site with new blog posts.