In a historic move, the 2020 NCAA men's basketball tournament has been canceled over concerns of the spreading coronavirus (COVID-19). It is the first time the NCAA Tournament will not be held since it began in 1939.
"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 announced. "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 affects all NCAA championships in the winter and spring, including the women's basketball tournament, College World Series, Women's College World Series and NCAA wrestling championships, among others. It comes just one day after the NCAA announced that it would go on with the NCAA Tournament but would do so without allowing the general public to attend.
"We are fully supportive of the NCAA's decision to cancel this year's NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship," read a joint statement from CBS Sports and Turner Sports. "We'll continue to work closely with the NCAA and all of our partners as we prioritize the health and well-being of everyone involved."
In the aftermath of that decision -- effectively an unprecedented no-spectator policy for March Madness -- conferences across the country began following suit by implementing a no-spectator policy. All seven major conferences in the sport announced shortly thereafter that postseason tournaments would proceed as scheduled with only student-athletes, coaches, limited family and essential personnel allowed to attend starting Thursday.
However, every major conference canceled its league basketball tournament in a sweeping set of announcements earlier Thursday. Conferences then began canceling participation of all spring sports on and off campuses.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) was deemed a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday.
As consequential as the NCAA's decision to cancel its tournament is, it is certainly not standing alone. The NBA suspended its season Wednesday amidst coronavirus fears. The MLS and NHL followed suit on Thursday with MLB deciding to delay the start to its season. Numerous other sports organizations canceled, suspended or postponed their events as well.