March Madness 2020: NCAA Tournament games to be held without fans amid coronavirus outbreak

NCAA president Mark Emmert on Wednesday announced that the entirety of the 2020 men’s and women’s college basketball tournaments will be played without spectators present. Only essential personnel and a limited number of family members will be allowed to attend.

The decision comes as a result of the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) throughout the United States.

“The decision is in the best interest of public health,” Emmert said in the statement, “including that of coaches, administrators, fans and, most importantly, our student-athletes.”

The NCAA on March 2 told Sporting News it was monitoring COVID-19 but intended to continue with the NCAA Tournament as planned. In the time since the the NCAA’s original statement, however, multiple states, cities and athletic governing bodies begin restricting or canceling gatherings of large crowds, including athletic events.

That included cancellations by the Ivy League Tournament and College Basketball Invitational, as well as restricted access to the MAC and Big West tournaments as well as the First Four and NCAA Tournament games held in the state of Ohio .

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