The NCAA has canceled the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments over coronavirus concerns, as well as all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships.
Several major announcements with implications on collegiate and professional sports have been made since Wednesday in response to coronavirus, or COVID-19. Every major men’s basketball conference canceled their tournaments by this afternoon, and soon afterwards the cancellation of the men’s and women’s basketball NCAA basketball championships was announced.
From the statement issued by the NCAA: “This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities.”
The men’s basketball tournament has been played annually since 1939, but it’s not always attracted the top teams in the country: for many years the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) was considered the more prestigious championship. This is a big economic blow both to the NCAA and its television partners: it’s been estimated that the tournament generates over a billion dollars in economic activity.
The decision by the NCAA to skip winter championships mirrors an ongoing trend playing out around professional sports, with several leagues announcing some sort of suspensions to their current seasons. Those include the NHL, NBA, developmental NBA G League, AHL, ECHL and, in professional soccer, MLS, Division II USL Championship and Division III USL League One. With the situation very much evolving, more announcements from other professional sports leagues are expected to follow.
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