March Madness, the yearly NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournament, officially has been canceled in response to concerns over the coronavirus.
The NCAA also has canceled other championships to be played in the winter and spring and college baseball World Series that was set for June.
The decision will reportedly affect basketball tournaments for division I, II and III schools.
“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,” said the NCAA in a statement on Thursday, March 12.
One day before the NCAA made its decision, there were plans for the tournament to be held in empty arenas without fans.
But around the same time that call was made, conferences like the Big East, Big 10, Big 12, The ACC, SEC and Pac 12 canceled their championship tournaments.
Officials from Duke University previously had expressed they wouldn’t play in March Madness if NCAA plans were to continue with the tournaments.
The NCAA’s decision comes less than 24 hours after the NBA suspended the rest of its 2019-2020 season when the Utah Jazz’s Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. His teammate Donovan Mitchell tested positive as well.
Additionally, on Thursday, Major League Baseball said it’s canceling the remainder of spring training and will postpone opening day for at least two weeks because of the coronavirus.
The NHL also suspended its current season for the same reason, as did Major League Soccer.
After news about March Madness being canceled came, some coaches shared that they didn’t agree with the decision and thought it should’ve been postponed instead.
“I think all of us felt we could postpone it even until May, and if we needed to cancel we could then,” said Gonzaga’s coach Mark Few.
This is the first time the Division I championship has been canceled since it began in 1939.