March Madness is going to be fan free. Today (March 11), the NCAA announced the drastic step it was taking of restricting fan access to the Men’s Basketball tournament as well as other events.
The decision comes due to the spread of the Coronavirus, which the World Health Organization today declared is a pandemic.
“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 in attendance,” said NCAA president Mark Emmert in a statement.
He added, “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 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.”
The NCAA reportedly formed an advisory panel to contemplate this decision, which took days.
Their choice to limit who will be at the games, of course, will be a logistical nightmare for the teams, venues and sponsors. But, better to err on the side of caution, right?
Nevertheless, basketball Twitter is distraught. Peep some of the more absurd reactions below.