2020 NCAA Tournament games to be played without fans in attendance due to threat of coronavirus

In response to concerns over the spread of coronavirus, the NCAA announced Wednesday that fans will not be able to attend its championships including the 2020 men’s and women’s NCAA Tournaments.

“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,” NCAA President Mark Emmert in a statement. “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.”

The NCAA’s stance is its most aggressive yet after initially doubling down on its plans over the weekend when Senior Vice President of NCAA Basketball Dan Gavitt said the NCAA was “definitively planning on running the tournament at all 14 sites with fans.” The decision was made in conjunction and with advisement from the CDC, and with the NCAA’s recently-formed advisory panel which consists of experts in the public health, epidemiology and medical fields.

Had the NCAA not taken this step, it’s possible that individual host sites may have arrived at the decision to ban fans sooner rather than later. Earlier on Wednesday, for instance, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced that NCAA Tournament games in Ohio — the First Four in Dayton and first and second round games in Cleveland — would proceed as planned but without fans, promising an executive order in the coming days to enforce such a decision. The Big West and MAC had already announced they would play their postseason tournaments without fans. 

As for conference tournaments, it’s business as usual — for now. We could see major conferences make changes to its policies regarding fans, but many conferences have already begun their postseason tournaments and more will get underway Wednesday night.

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