Image Source: Getty / Grant Halverson
Update: On Thursday afternoon, the NCAA announced that Division 1 men's and women's basketball tournaments are canceled due to coronavirus fears. "This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities," the NCAA wrote in a statement.
Original post: The NCAA tournaments are going to have a very different feel to them this year. On Wednesday, NCAA President Mark Emmert announced that due to concerns around the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, Division 1 men's and women's basketball tournaments will not be canceled but will be played without fans and "only essential staff and limited family attendance." As confirmed cases of the coronavirus continue to rise around the country, officials are figuring out the best plan of action for major public events. For the NCAA, this means no fans in 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," Emmert wrote in a statement. "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."
While events like Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals have been postponed until later in the year, sporting events are determining the best plan of action. Earlier in the week, the MLB, NBA, NHL, and MLS announced they were banning the media from accessing locker rooms to prevent spreading the virus, but on Wednesday, further adjustments had to be made.
Following the NCAA news, the NBA announced they were suspending the season after one player on the Utah Jazz tested positive for the coronavirus. It is understandably more of a challenge to entirely cancel the NCAA tournament because of school schedules, but as Emmert said, they will "make adjustments as needed." See Emmert's full statement below, and find out more about the coronavirus symptoms to look out for.