March Madness 2020 continues to change due to coronavirus, as the Big Ten, ACC and Big 12 tournaments banned fans the COVID-19 outbreak.
While fans were allowed into the events for Wednesday night’s games, they will be barred from attending the remaining games in both league’s ongoing conference tournaments. The Pac-12 and SEC all played games on Wednesday night and have not yet provided an update on their status moving forward.
Big East commissioner Val Ackerman told reporters that the plan is for fans to be allowed to attend games moving forward — the arena was open to fans for Wednesday night’s games — but that they will evaluate moving forward, adding that she is waiting for input from the city of New York. A source told NBC Sports that the Atlantic 10 is holding a board of directors meeting on Wednesday night and that a decision on what they will be doing moving forward is expected tonight. The American has not yet started their conference tournament.
The ban begins with Thursday’s games. All three conferences allowed fans at the tournaments when they started. But earlier on Wednesday, the NCAA announced that fans wouldn’t be allowed in the 2020 NCAA tournament. It’s sparked a response from many of the nation’s top conferences in the midst of a chaotic postseason stretch.
For the Big Ten, it’s the start of a larger ongoing initiative that bans fans from all remaining winter and spring Big Ten sporting events.
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Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby confirmed the league’s decision to continue the tournament without fans during a press conference on Wednesday.
“Beginning with tomorrow’s tournament games, we will be implementing limited access, he said. “Teams will have access to 125 tickets. AD’s have decided that tickets will go to guest of student athletes.”
The ACC sent out their release late on Wednesday night.
“All games will be played with only essential tournament personnel, limited school administrators and student-athlete guests, broadcast television and credentialed media members present,” the statement read.
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The Ivy League already cancelled its conference tournament completely earlier this week. Teams like Chicago State have also cancelled road trips earlier this month. The Big Ten, ACC and Big 12 are just the latest conferences to make decisions based on public health.
“The main priority of the Big Ten Conference is to ensure the safety of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, fans and media as we continue to monitor all relevant information on the COVID-19 virus on a daily basis,” the Big Ten said.
March Madness 2020 has certainly been turned upside down by coronavirus. Competing in buildings without fans is a new experience for one of America’s most popular sporting events. March Madness is associated with rowdy fanbases at conference tournaments and NCAA tournament games. That won’t be the case in 2020 with public health becoming a growing concern with coronavirus.