CHICAGO (CBS) — The NCAA will be playing its tournament games without fans, including the Big Ten tournament games, starting tomorrow.
Fans attended today’s Big Ten contests, but as of tomorrow games “will be limited to student-athletes, coaches, event staff, essential team and Conference staff, TV network partners, credentialed media, and immediate family members of the participating teams,” according to a statement. The fan ban applies to other sports as well.
The upcoming championship events, including men’s and women’s March Madness games, will be played “only essential staff and limited family attendance,” 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 NCAA said it will continue to monitor the situation and make adjustments as needed.
The statement from the NCAA president:
— NCAA (@NCAA) March 11, 2020
The advisory panel said in a statement:
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.
It appears the decision will affect all NCAA sports, such as the hockey tournament known as the “Frozen Four.”