NCAA announces limited attendance regulations amid COVID-19 outbreak

Attendance is restricted to "essential staff and limited family" at upcoming NCAA championship events

The NCAA and its president, Mark Emmert, released a statement Wednesday afternoon restricting attendance at all championship events, including the Division I men's and women's basketball tournaments, to "essential staff and limited family."

"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," Emmert said in the statement. "The decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans, and most importantly, our student-athletes."

The statement comes after an increase in cases in COVID-19, commonly referred to as the coronavirus, in the United States. There are two confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Arizona, seven presumptive positive and 32 tests are pending results. The outbreak was named a "pandemic" by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday.

Per the WHO, there are more than 118,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across 114 countries as well as 4,291 deaths from the disease.

The NCAA's ruling is not the first decision made in the collegiate sphere to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

Harvard University announced in-person classes would switch to virtual sessions and alerted students that they must move out by Sunday.

The Ivy League chose to cancel all spring sports for the 2019-20 school year as of Wednesday afternoon and recently cancelled the conference's men's and women's basketball tournaments. 

Now, the NCAA has joined them in taking action.

"We recognize the opportunity to compete in an NCAA national championship is an experience of a lifetime for the students and their families," Emmert said. "Today, we will move forward and conduct championships consistent with the current information and will continue to monitor and make adjustments as needed."

Editor's Note: This story was updated at 4:27 p.m. to include a Twitter embed with comments from men's basketball head coach Bobby Hurley.


Reach the reporter at aklatsky@asu.edu and follow @averyklatsky on Twitter. 

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