NCAA Will Not Allow Fans to Attend Men’s, Women’s Tournaments

Sep 8, 2019; Baltimore, MD, USA; A general view of the empty seats in the stadium above the photo well outside of the visiting team dugout before the game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Texas Rangers at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

The NCAA dropped the hammer on Wednesday afternoon by announcing a league-wide ban that will keep fans out of their stadiums and arenas amidst the busiest time of the year in college sports.

NCAA President Mark Emmert released a statement announcing the news. He acknowledged that this news is disappointing for sports fans but understands how drastic of an impact the coronavirus has on the United States.

“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.”

This comes in response to the following statement from the NCAA COVID-19 Advisory Panel:

“The NCAA COVID-19 Advisory Panel recognizes the fluidity of COVID-19 and its impact on hosting events in a public space. COVID-19 is spreading rapidly in the United States, and behavioral risk mitigation strategies are the best option for slowing the spread of this disease. This is especially important because mildly symptomatic individuals can transmit COVID-19. Given these considerations, coupled with a more unfavorable outcome of COVID-19 in older adults – especially those with underlying chronic medical conditions – we 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.”

Emmert’s announcement is the biggest of the day but certainly not the first in terms of sports cancellations prompted by COVID-19.

Today’s series of coronavirus-prompted news in the sports world included the Mariners being forced to relocate their opening two series due to a gathering ban, the Warriors announcing they will play their next home game without fans, the Giants canceling an exhibition game against the Athletics, the XFL’s Dragons choosing to play their next two games without fans, and the Ivy League Presidents unanimously agreeing to cancel all spring athletic programs.

It will be fascinating to watch March Madness games this year as every comment—from swearing to celebratory cheering to game plans—will be heard on the television broadcasts across the world.

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