The NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments will be played as scheduled, but the games will be off-limits to fans due to the spreading coronavirus, NCAA President Mark Emmert said Wednesday.
“The NCAA continues to assess the impact of COVID-19 in consultation with public health officials and our COVID-19 advisory panel," Emmert said. "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 Division 1 men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, with only essential staff and limited family attendance.”
The announcement came after elected officials in several states and cities banned large events and gatherings, including Ohio, where Governor Mike DeWine said fans would be banned from NCAA games in Dayton and Cleveland next week.
Also earlier on Wednesday, the NBA's Golden State Warriors said Thursday's game against the Brooklyn Nets in San Francisco would be played without fans in attendance, marking the first time the pandemic had prompted a professional sporting event to be held under such circumstances. Several college basketball conference tournaments were held without fans, including the Mid-American Conference, which started on Wednesday. Others, including the Big East and SEC tournaments, were scheduled to tip off on Wednesday without any restrictions.
Several other high-profile sporting events were cancelled altogether this week due to the virus, including the ATP Tour’s BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, and the Ivy League conference basketball tournaments.
The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournament brackets are scheduled to be revealed Sunday and Monday, respectively.
Emmert said the NCAA would “continue to monitor and make adjustments as needed.”