The NCAA has canceled its men’s and women’s college basketball tournaments as the fallout from the spread of coronavirus continues.
All remaining winter and spring NCAA championships are canceled as well.
“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,” NCAA Mark Emmert said in a statement.
This will be the first time since the tournament’s inception in 1939 that it will not be played.
The writing was on the wall earlier Thursday when 14 conferences, including the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, and Big 12, canceled their postseason tournaments.
The Ivy League was the first to do so earlier this week, canceling its four-team tournament and rewarding an NCAA Tournament bid to the regular-season champion, Yale.
A number of postseason tournaments had already been played out with automatic bids being rewarded. Hofstra University on Long Island clinched its first NCAA Tournament berth in 19 years by winning the Colonial Athletic Association title. New Jersey university, Rutgers, was also poised to receive an at-large bid to enter the big dance for the first time since 1991.
In total, 68 teams would have competed in the tournament with the NCAA’s selection show set to air this Sunday. Fans and analysts alike filling out their brackets became a regular tradition, making college basketball synonymous with this time of year.
On Wednesday, it was reported that the tournament would go on as planned but with no fans in attendance. That tune changed after the NBA, NHL, MLB, and MLS suspended their seasons for the time being.
“It’s an intelligent decision,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said on ESPN. “This has grown to be such a national issue, but the important statement by Dr. Emmert is that we don’t want to add to this health issue to our country just because this tournament is so important to us.”