CHICAGO (CBS) — The NCAA has canceled the March Madness men’s and women’s Division I basketball tournaments amid coronavirus fears.

The announcement came late Thursday afternoon. This is the first time this has ever happened.

“Today, NCAA president Mark Emmert and the board of governors canceled the Division I men’s and women’s 2020 basketball tournaments, as well as all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships,” the NCAA said in a statement. “This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to the spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decision by other entities.”

The cancellation also affects the College World Series and the Women’s College World Series.

The earlier plan had been to hold the upcoming championship events with “only essential staff and limited family attendance.”

But a snowball effect forced the cancellation of March Madness, starting with conference tournaments earlier in the day on Thursday.

The Big East actually started a game and didn’t return after halftime – as all the major conferences, including the Big Ten – began starting cancelling tournaments one by one.