After recent suspensions and postponements of professional sports league seasons, the NCAA has announced that their college basketball tournaments for 2020 are canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
The news comes less than 24 hours after reports of the first pro sports star to test positive arrived with Utah Jazz All-Star Rudy Gobert. That led to the suspension of the current NBA season.
It also arrives mere moments after both Major League Baseball and National Hockey League made announcements regarding their respective seasons being postponed or suspended.
March Madness won’t take place in 2020
In a developing story reported by ESPN, they indicated that the growing concerns regarding the coronavirus outbreak led to the decision for the NCAA to cancel their remaining winter and spring championships. That means both the men’s and women’s college basketball tournaments will not take place for 2020.
“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,” a statement from the NCAA said (below).
The announcement isn’t surprising to many people following the reports that Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell tested positive for COVID-19, as well as various NCAA conferences canceling their basketball tournaments around the nation.
— NCAA (@NCAA) March 12, 2020
The conference basketball tournaments usually take place over the week leading up to Selection Sunday. That’s when college basketball teams learn whether they’re in the tournament field, and if so, which seed they are and who they’ll play against. Selection Sunday was set to take place on Sunday, March 15,
Some of the conference tournaments had already completed ahead of Thursday (Mar. 12) producing automatic bid teams for the NCAA Tournament. However, many of the conference tournaments did not go forth.
Initially, there were reports of conference tournaments planning to go forth without fans in attendance and that the NCAA Tournament would do something similar. That has now changed.
Conference tournaments canceled earlier in the day
Ahead of the decision to cancel the NCAA Tournament, the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC all canceled their respective conference tournaments, per SI’s report.
When that initially happened, it was believed the top seed in the particular tournament was the automatic bid for the Big Dance, but that will no longer make a difference.
The Big East also canceled its conference tournament but did so during halftime of a quarterfinals game between St. Johns and Creighton. At the time of the cancelation, St. John’s was leading 38-35 at Madison Square Garden.
A video clip showing the reaction to the news of the Big East Tournament’s cancelation at MSG arrived on social media.
Fans at MSG react to the Big East tournament being canceled mid-game. pic.twitter.com/zNLvZSrYlr
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 12, 2020
Reportedly, there were Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference women’s basketball games that also took place on Thursday ahead of the cancelation news.
The men’s NCAA Tournament 2020 was set to begin on March 17 with the First Four games in Dayton, Ohio. First-round games were slated to begin on March 18 at regional sites with the Final Four set to take place in Atlanta, Georgia beginning on April 4.
While it’s an unfortunate situation for college basketball fans, the growing coronavirus outbreak has been declared a pandemic as it has infected over 127,000 people in 111 countries, per SI.