NCAA COVID-19 updates: conferences, tournaments make changes amid coronavirus threat

March 11, 2020 /
Update: March 12, 4:20 p.m. ET — NCAA officially cancels men’s and women’s basketball tournaments

“March Madness” is officially canceled. NCAA president Mark Emmert and the Board of Governers announced on Thursday afternoon that both the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, as well as all remaining winter and spring sports championships, have been officially canceled.

Update: March 12, 12:00 p.m. ET — Big Ten, SEC, Pac-12, ACC and American cancel conference tournaments

Joining a list of organizations cancelling or postponing their seasons, such as the NBA, the Big Ten, SEC, ACC and American Athletic Conference have all canceled their postseason tournaments effective immediately.

All three tournaments had previously announced on Wednesday that the remainder of the tournaments would be played without fans in attendance. As of midday Thursday, the Big East conference was still set to be played without fans in attendance.

Update: March 11, 4:30 p.m. ET — NCAA announces March Madness will be closed to the public

The NCAA and president Mark Emmert announced on Wednesday a decision to limit attendance to all NCAA tournament events to “only essential staff and limited family,” according to statement released by the NCAA’s Twitter account.

Original Story: With the COVID-19 novel coronavirus continuing to spread across the country, the NCAA is being faced with one of its toughest challenges to date when it comes to deciding on the continuance events.

Individual conferences and schools, however, are allowed to make changes to their postseason championship tournaments at their own discretion, according to NCAA president Mark Emmert.

» Related: NCAA establishes new coronavirus advisory panel

The Ivy League, which boasts Harvard, Yale and Princeton, was the first to make a coronavirus-oriented decision — opting to cancel their men’s and women’s postseason basketball tournaments. The league’s regular season champions, the Yale men’s and Princeton women’s teams, will receive the automatic berths into their respective NCAA tournaments.

“We understand and share the disappointment with student-athletes, coaches and fans who will not be able to participate in these tournaments,” Ivy League executive director Robin Harris said in the league’s official statement. “Regrettably, the information and recommendations presented to us from public health authorities and medical professionals have convinced us that this is the most prudent decision.”

Shortly thereafter, the Mid-American (MAC) and Big West conferences would make their own decisions — opting to continue forward with the postseason tournaments, but bar the public from attending.

“The safety of all is our greatest concern,” MAC commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher said in a press release. “Since January, I have stated that any decision would follow the advice of state governmental officials and medical professionals. Following the feedback we received today we have taken this action which is in alignment with the recommendation of Governor DeWine.”

» Also See: Tips for keeping facilities clean, athletes healthy

The Big West conference maintained a similar stance as the MAC, opting to put the safety of players at the forefront.

“The Big West Board of Directors, comprised of the chief executive officers of the nine member universities, strongly feel that this is a prudent way to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus while being sensitive to our student-athletes who have pointed towards playing in the tournament all season,” Big West commissioner Dennis Farrell added in a release.

NCAA conference tournaments are currently ongoing, and set to conclude on Sunday, March 15th — “Selection Sunday.” The NCAA Tournament is slated to begin with the “First Four” on Tuesday, March 17th, and will conclude in early April.