Due to the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) outbreak, the NCAA announced on Wednesday that the men’s and women’s college basketball NCAA tournaments will be played without fans in the arenas, according to the latest update.
The news became official in a statement released on Wednesday afternoon.
“I have made the decision to conduct our upcoming championship events,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement, “including the Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, with only essential staff and limited family attendance.”
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The COVID-19 Advisory Panel put in place by the NCAA also released a statement on the matter, saying that they “recognize the fluidity” of the situation and they “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,” the panel’s statement said.
WILL THE NCAA TOURNAMENT BE CANCELLED BECAUSE OF CORONAVIRUS?
As it stands, the NCAA tournament will still be played despite the spread of the coronavirus in the United States. The concern, according to the advisory panel, is not the players participating in the games. It is the spread of the virus through the fans in the crowd, college basketball fans that may be unknowingly carrying COVID-19 and transmitting the virus to other fans in attendance at the game.
Those people would be traveling all across the country to watch NCAA tournament games, bringing coronavirus back with them to areas that may have been previously unaffected.
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“Behavioral risk mitigation strategies are the best option for slowing the spread of this disease,” the panel said. Cancelling highly-attended events is the definition of risk mitigation. “This is especially important because mildly symptomatic individuals can transmit COVID-19.”
WILL ANY OTHER CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS BE IMPACTED BY CORONAVIRUS?
Nearly all of the major conference tournaments have been cancelled as of Thursday afternoon. The Big East was the only conference with a 12 p.m. EST tip as St. John’s and Creighton started its quarterfinal game. That game was eventually called at halftime when the Big East cancelled the rest of the tournament.
One of the sport’s busiest weeks of the year appears to be finished.
THE MAJOR CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS WERE TO BE PLAYED WITHOUT FANS BEFORE CANCELLATIONS
All of the tournaments that took place on Wednesday night opened their doors. But all eight of the major conferences announced throughout Wednesday evening they would follow the NCAA tournament and play the rest of the week without fans in the arena.
Every league released some variation of the same statement: Games would be played but only with essential personnel, credentialed media and a limited number of family members for each team.
Most of the tournaments cancelled before playing in front of empty arenas.
The Big East started its game with only the band, cheerleaders and 200 tickets to family being at Madison Square Garden. The conference eventually cancelled the tournament once Creighton and St. John’s went to halftime.
NEBRASKA COACH FRED HOIBERG EXITS BIG TEN TOURNAMENT WITH ILLNESS
A scary moment at the Big Ten tournament on Wednesday night. Nebraska head coach Fred Hoiberg left the game with four minutes remaining in the first half.
Hoiberg was taken to the hospital after feeling sick all day. He was clearly in discomfort on the bench.
It was initially unclear what made Hoiberg sick. Thankfully, he was cleared of coronavirus and tested positive for the flu. Hoiberg should be able to make a full recovery.
GRAND CANYON AND BAKERSFIELD WOMEN’S GAME POSTPONED DUE TO MEDICAL SITUATION
The WAC women’s conference tournament saw postponement on Wednesday. The quarterfinal matchup between Bakersfield and Grand Canyon was moved until at least Thursday morning. The postponement came due to a medical situation where a student-athlete was sick.
Stadium’s Jeff Goodman reported that the player in question went to a local hospital to be tested. The player never went to the arena.
The tournament could receive additional updates before its scheduled to resume tomorrow.