As various states and organizations work to get ahead of coronavirus (COVID-19) being a full-scale pandemic, the NCAA just made a big move that affects a whole lot of moving pieces.
In a statement released by NCAA President Mark Emmert, attendance will be limited moving forward given the rapid spread of coronavirus across the United States. Meaning: there’s now a strong likelihood that upcoming men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments will be moving forward with only essential personnel and limited parent attendance.
Thus, they will not be cancelled, but we won’t see full arenas of fans cheering on the teams they root for at any of the upcoming events in March Madness.
The NCAA COVID-19 Advisory Panel recognizes the fluidity of COVID-19 and its impact on hosting events in a public space. COVID-19 is spreading rapidly in the United States, and behavioral risk mitigation strategies are the best option for slowing the spread of this disease. This is especially important because mildly symptomatic individuals can transmit COVID-19. Given these considerations, coupled with a more unfavorable outcome of COVID-19 in older adults – especially those with underlying chronic medical conditions – we recommend against sporting events open to the public. We do believe sport events can take place with only essential personnel and limited family attendance, and this protects our players, employees, and fans.
Beyond, that obviously also affects other sporting events, with baseball, softball, playoff hockey, spring football and much more.
The Big Ten announced on Wednesday that it will be holding its tournaments as scheduled, and that ticketed fans are still fully allowed to attend the men’s basketball tournament (the women’s tournament has already concluded).
The Big Ten Conference’s main priority is to ensure the safety of our students, coaches, administrators, event staff, fans and media as we continue to monitor all relevant information on the COVID-19 virus.
At this time the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament will continue to be held as scheduled. Postgame media availabilities will continue to take place at the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament, however they will be held in larger designated areas of Bankers Life Fieldhouse in lieu of team locker rooms.
We will continue to consult with Pacers Sports & Entertainment, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the Marion County Public Health Department and the NCAA leading up to and during the event to implement best practices and provide the most current information.
The NCAA statement comes on the heels of Michigan announcing that it is cancelling classes and moving to an alternative format starting next week. It is also cancelling any event that holds more than 100 people in attendance.
The athletic department has yet to issue a statement of how it intends to move forward.
Post updated to reflect that March Madness will be held without fans.
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