(CNBC) The National Collegiate Athletic Association has announced the upcoming men’s and women’s basketball tournaments will be played with “only essential staff and limited family attendance,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement Wednesday.
“The NCAA continues to assess the impact of COVID-19 in consultation with public health officials and our COVID-19 advisory panel,” Emmert’s statement said. “Based on their advice and my discussions with the NCAA Board of Governors, I have made the decision to conduct our upcoming championship events, including the Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, with only essential staff and limited family attendance.
“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. This decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and, most importantly, our student-athletes.
“We recognize the opportunity to compete in an NCAA national championship is an experience of a lifetime for the students and their families. Today, we will move forward and conduct championships consistent with the current information and will continue to monitor and make adjustments as needed.”
The decision came hours after the Golden State Warriors announced Thursday’s contest against the Brooklyn Nets will also be played without spectators as the team responding to San Francisco Mayor London Breed banned public gatherings of 1,000 or more people as coronavirus continues to affect U.S. cities and sporting events around the world.