Amid growing coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns, the NCAA President has revealed a statement regarding limited attendance at upcoming March Madness events.
President Mark Emmert released a statement Wednesday afternoon, noting that 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,” Emmert said. “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-athlets. We recognize the opportunity to compete in the 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.”
In a separate statement from the NCAA COVID-19 Advisory Panel, NCAA Director of Communications Stacey Osburn noted that the panel “recognizes the fluidity of COVID-19 and its impact on hosting events in a public space,” noting that the virus is rapidly spreading across the U.S. and “behavioral risk mitigation strategies are the best option for slowing the spread of this disease.”
“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 the players, employees, and fans.”
Earlier today, the Ivy League NCAA Conference Tournament was cancelled amid the virus. The NCAA isn’t alone; sporting events like BNP Paribas Open have been cancelled, along with a handful of large-scale live entertainment events like Coachella, Stagecoach, Ultra, and SXSW. View the full, updating list of concerts and festivals cancelled due to coronavirus here.