NCAA President Mark Emmert, released a statement on Wednesday afternoon saying that this year’s NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s college basketball tournament will be played without fans in the arena.
According to Emmert’s statement:
The NCAA continues to assess the impact of COVID-19 in consultation with public health officials and our COVID-19 advisory panel. 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 the Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, with only essential staff and limited family attendance. 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. This decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and, most importantly, our student-athletes. We recognize the opportunity to compete in an NCAA national championship is an experience of a lifetime for the students and their families. Today, we will move forward and conduct championships consistent with the current information and will continue to monitor and make adjustments as needed.
There had been some talk of moving games to locations believed to be less at risk to the virus which is sweeping the globe. However, after consultation with health officials and the NCAA’s own COVID-19 advisory panel, the association opted to proceed with the games with only essential personnel in attendance.
Emmert’s decision comes only a short time after the Golden State Warriors announced that they will play their Thursday night home game against the Brooklyn Nets in an empty-arena. After a directive from the San Francisco Health Office banning gatherings of 1,000 people or more. The NBA is the first U.S. sports league to play a game without fans, due to the spread of the coronavirus.
Governor Inslee of Washington issued a similar directive banning gatherings of 250 people or more, in the greater Seattle area.