NCAA bars fans from its postseason events

Amid Coronavirus fears, the NCAA announced that its postseason events will be played in empty arenas Wednesday. Fans will not be granted entry, and only essential staff will be allowed to attend.


Hannah Kinson

A basketball is seen on the court during a game between Iowa and Wisconsin on Jan. 27 at Carver Hawkeye Arena.

Austin Hanson, Assistant Sports Editor

This March, the madness will be silent.

NCAA President Mark Emmert announced that the organization will conduct its postseason championships in empty arenas amid rising concerns over the spread of COVID-19.

“I have made the decision to conduct our upcoming championship events, including the Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, with essential staff and limited family attendance,”  Emmert said in a statement. “While I understand how disappointing this is for all fans of our sports, my decision is based on how COVID-19 is progressing in the United States. This decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and, most importantly, our student-athletes.”

At a Wednesday afternoon press conference to address how the University of Iowa plans to move forward with campus operations in light of COVID-19, UI Senior Vice President Finance and Operations Rod Lehnertz said the UI will coordinate with and follow decisions made by the NCAA.

“We are consulting with public-health officials in our COVID-19 advisory panel, who are leading experts in epidemiology and public health, and will make decisions in the coming days,” he said. “So, they are also assessing this, and it is something, as we’ve seen throughout this fluid situation, where everybody is reacting to the latest and best information that we have.”

The 2020 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament will tip off as scheduled on March 17.

The 2020 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament will also stick to its existing schedule, beginning play with Round of 64 action on March 24.

Overlooked, perhaps, is the 2020 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, which are set to occur as scheduled March 19-21 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

After winning the 2020 Big Ten Wrestling Championships, the Iowa wrestling team is taking a full lineup of 10 wrestlers to the NCAA Wrestling Championships in front of an empty U.S. Bank Stadium. Home of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, the stadium’s capacity is 66,665.

Hawkeye women’s basketball is also chasing an NCAA Championship this season. With the field and seeding unannounced, Iowa will wait with bated breath to see where it will play preliminary round matchups.

The Iowa’s men’s basketball team is also waiting for its NCAA Tournament seed. Unlike the women’s team, the men’s team will not have the opportunity to play their first two NCAA Tournament games at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Depending on how seeding shakes up, the Hawkeyes will find themselves at one of 14 NCAA Regional sites. Some of the regional sites are located in states with documented cases of coronavirus: Spokane, Washington; Cleveland, Ohio; Albany, New York; Omaha, Nebraska; and Sacramento, California.

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