Amid growing concerns of the spread of COVID-19, the NCAA and the Big 12 Conference will not permit fans into NCAA tournaments.
NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement on Wednesday the decision was not made lightly.
“I have made the decision to conduct our upcoming championship events, including the Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, with only essential staff and limited family attendance,” Emmert said. “While I understand how disappointing this is for all fans of our sports, my decision is based on the current understanding of how COVID-19 is progressing in the United States.”
In addition to concerns for the health of the public, Emmert also cited the health and wellbeing of student athletes as a variable in the decision-making process.
Although games played on Wednesday night had spectators, the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City will not allow fans into anymore games.
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said the “limited access” to both the men’s and women’s tournaments will leave just 125 tickets per team for each game.
According to the Kansas City Star, it will be the first time the NCAA basketball tournament will be played without fans present.