NCAA President Mark Emmert has just announced that the Men’s and Women’s NCAA Basketball Tournaments will take place without fans, and with only essential staff and limited family attendance.
Here is Emmert’s statement in full.
— Inside the NCAA (@InsidetheNCAA) March 11, 2020
Emmert’s announcement came twenty minutes after the NCAA COVID-19 Advisory Panel released the following statement advising such a move.
“The NCAA COVID-19 Advisory Panel recognizes the fluidity of COVID-19 and its impact on hosting events in a public space. COVID-19 is spreading rapidly in the United States, and behavioral risk mitigation strategies are the best option for slowing the spread of this disease. This is especially important because mildly symptomatic individuals can transmit COVID-19. 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 our players, employees, and fans.”
In meeting with the media on Wednesday, Ohio State men’s basketball coach Chris Holtmann said that they have been keeping their players updated on what is a very fluid situation. He also told them to get plenty of rest and wash their hands.
There are additional actions being taken by the basketball program to limit the possibilities of exposure to their players, and they’ve advised the players not to feel too terrible if they decline a handshake or an autograph.
Asked about the possibility of playing in an empty arena for the NCAA Tournament, Buckeyes point guard CJ Walker said that the team is only worried about controlling what they can control. He also added that playing in an empty gym isn’t new to any of them.
“We practice in front of zero people every day,” he said. “We grind and work every day with nobody there and nobody watching.”