UPDATE: THE NCAA TOURNAMENT HAS BEEN CANCELLED.
The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments will be held without any fans in attendance this year, due to the COVID-19 (aka coronavirus) outbreak. NCAA President Mark Emmert announced the decision on Wednesday afternoon, right in the middle of the ongoing conference tournaments, many of which are still being played in full arenas.
This is going to be one of the most unique, creepy situations in the history of athletics. This is an absolutely fascinating decision by Mark Emmert and the NCAA. I don’t know the numbers off the top of my head, but I imagine HUNDREDS of MILLIONS of dollars will be lost the course of the NCAA Tournament for something I believe is being wildly overhyped by the media itself. Only 30 people worldwide have died from CORONAVIRUS. Just 30. Yet, the entire world is panicking and fearing for their life. If you haven’t learned already, only people 50+ or older are dying from this virus. I don’t say that to single older people out, trust me. I don’t want to see your mother, father, grandma or grandpa die from the CORONAVIRUS. But, relax. Calm down. Wash your hands. Keep your hands out of your mouth. The NCAA Tournament, the freaking NATIONAL TITLE game will have crickets chirping in the stands. Imagine this extremely possible scenario: NCAA National Title game. 3.6 seconds remaining. Kansas is down 2 to Dayton. The Jayhawks NAIL a 3 at the buzzer to win the National Championship. The loudest noise you hear? Is the buzzer itself. This. Is. Going. To. Be. WILD.
According to the Press release, the only people allowed on tournament sites will be the players and coaches, essential staff and a limited amount of family members. The NCAA’s official statement reads:
“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. 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.”
The official brackets for the men’s tournament will be unveiled on Sunday night. Typically, the top seeds are placed in regions nearby their school, giving those teams a home court advantage in the opening rounds – but there will be no such advantages this year as all games will essentially be played on an eerily quiet neutral floor.
— NCAA (@NCAA) March 11, 2020