Only Essential Staff And Limited Family At NCAA Tournaments

Mar 11, 2020

FILE - In this March 14, 2012, file photo, a player runs across the NCAA logo during practice at the NCAA tournament college basketball in Pittsburgh. The NCAA Board of Governors took the first step Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019, toward allowing athletes to cash in on their fame, voting unanimously to clear the way for the amateur athletes to "benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness."
Credit AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File

The NCAA is closing games to fans during the upcoming men’s and women’s Division One basketball play-offs over concerns about the coronavirus.

March Madness is one of the organization’s most profitable sporting events.

In a statement, President Mark Emmert says the decision comes after careful thought on what would be best for the public, including fans, coaches and student-athletes.

Emmert says, “We recognize the opportunity to compete in an NCAA national championship is an experience of a lifetime for the students and their families.”

The Indianapolis-based organization says essential staff and limited family will still be able to attend. The Midwest Regional is scheduled in Indianapolis in late March.

The move comes after the Ivy League cancelled its tournaments and other conferences took similar steps to ban fans from games.

The decision comes after the NCAA's COVID-19 advisory panel recommended against playing sporting events open to the general public. Emmert also says the NCAA is looking into moving the men's Final Four from Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium to a smaller arena. The tournaments begin next week.