NCAA cancels March Madness amid spread of coronavirus

Keith Srakocic/AP ImagesA player crosses the NCAA logo during the NCAA Tournament.

The NCAA announced on Thursday that it has cancelled the men’s and women’s basketball tournament, also known as March Madness, due to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The decision also includes “all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships,” which includes sports such as baseball and softball.

“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 the ongoing decisions of other entities,” the statement read.

The announcement comes the day after the NBA suspended its season after Utah Jazz centre Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. Since then, the NHL, MLB, and MLS have also suspended operations.

On Thursday, prior to the NCAA’s announcement, several other tournaments, such as the ACC, SEC, A-10 and Big Ten tournaments were all cancelled. However, the Big East Tournament continued with gameplay on Thursday.

The NCAA announced on Wednesday that the tournament would remove fans and be played in front of a limited audience of family members and essentially staff. However, there were a growing number of calls for the NCAA to suspend the tournament. Several colleges and universities have closed campus and sent students home to finish the semester through online courses.

On Thursday, ESPN’s college basketball analyst Jay Bilas said it was a bad look for the tournament to continue with the NBA now suspended.

“I can’t see putting players out on the floor in the current climate,” Bilas said, adding: “When the pros say they’re not playing because of a public health issue, a pandemic, it strikes me as a very bad look and hard to justify that we’re going to trot out amateurs to play for money.”

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