This post was updated March 11 at 7:39 p.m.
This year’s March Madness is going to be quieter than usual.
All men’s and women’s basketball NCAA tournament games will be held with essential staff and limited family members only because of the outbreak of COVID-19, meaning no fans will be in attendance to watch UCLA men’s and women’s basketball’s postseason runs this season.
NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement Wednesday that he made the decision alongside the NCAA Board of Governors in order to protect the health of the public, as well as that of coaches and student-athletes. Emmert also said the NCAA is looking to move the Final Four from the 70,000-seat Mercedes-Benz Stadium into a smaller venue in Atlanta, with similar changes being considered for regionals, according to AP reporter Ralph D. Russo.
— NCAA (@NCAA) March 11, 2020
The NCAA has not yet defined what positions are considered “essential staff,” and it did not clarify which championship events would be affected outside of the men’s and women’s basketball and gymnastics national tournaments.
The Pac-12 followed in the NCAA’s footsteps Wednesday afternoon, as it released a statement that spectators would no longer be allowed to attend the remaining seven games of the men’s basketball conference tournament starting Thursday. Limited friends and family – as well as credentialed media – will be allowed to go to games.
UCLA’s game against the winner of California and Stanford on Thursday night will therefore be played in front of a mostly empty T-Mobile Arena.
UCLA Athletics announced Tuesday that all home events would be held with essential personnel only. The affected events were expected to reach beyond just regular season games, however, as UCLA women’s basketball had been projected to host the opening two rounds of the NCAA tournament.
If men’s basketball does not make March Madness and instead settles for a trip to the NIT, there will not be any fans there either, Andy Katz of NCAA.com reported.