LAKE MARY, Fla. - The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has announced it will conduct upcoming championship events, including the Division I men's and women's basketball tournaments with only essential staff and limited family attendance. The action is in response to concerns over the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
"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," said NCAA President Mark Emmert. "This decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and, most importantly, our student-athletes.
The decision comes after the NCAA's COVID-19 advisory panel of medical experts recommended against playing sporting events open to the general public.
The 68-team field for the men's tournament is scheduled to be announced Sunday and the 64-team women's tournament field is to be unveiled Monday. Games begin Tuesday and Wednesday on the men's side in Dayton, Ohio, where earlier Wednesday the governor ordered to restrict spectator access to indoor sporting events.
The closest games to Orlando are scheduled in Tampa for the First and Second Rounds on March 19-21. The tournament is scheduled to end with the Final Four in Atlanta on April 4-6.