NCAA Tournament Canceled Due to COVID-19
The NCAA called off its men’s and woman’s basketball tournaments on Thursday evening due to the spread of the coronavirus. The news comes just 24 hours after the NCAA announced that games would be played in mostly empty arenas.
"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 the academic year given the ongoing decisions by other entities," the NCAA said in statement.
The cancelling of the NCAA tournament was the final domino to fall in what started as a hectic day. Each Power 5 conference cancelled its remaining tournament games by 1:00 p.m. ET on Thursday. Smaller conferences followed suit, although Big East opponents Creighton and St. John’s did tip off at Madison Square Garden. The game was played until halftime before the conference shut down its tournament as well. That half of basketball was the last Division I game to be played this season.
Along with men’s and woman’s basketball, baseball, beach volleyball, bowling, fencing, golf (men’s and woman’s), gymnastics (men’s and women’s), ice hockey (men’s and women’s), indoor track, softball and many other winter and spring championships were cancelled as well.
At least one commissioner spoke out against cancelling the other sports immediately after the NCAA decided to call off this year’s March Madness tournament.
"Surprised that we've made a decision now in mid-March to not play baseball or softball national championship events [scheduled for June]. So I look forward to learning what informed that decision. I know what's informed our decisions over the last day and a half or so, but the news from the NCAA we were waiting on -- on the basketball tournaments and some of the championships happening now -- but obviously, there was the decision to go further," SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said on The Paul Finebaum Show.
This will be the first year that the NCAA men’s basketball tournament does not get played since 1939, when Oregon won the championship in Evanston, Illinois. According to ESPN.com, the three-week tournament generates nearly a billion dollars in revenue each year for the NCAA and its hundreds of member universities and colleges.
Similarly, Baseball’s College World Series won’t be held for the first time since 1946. The host city, Omaha, has hosted the Division I baseball championship every year since 1950 and the CWS has a $70 million annual impact on the local economy each year.