The NCAA announced on Thursday that it had cancelled the 2020 men’s NCAA Tournament, along with all other spring and winter sports championships, due to the COVID-19 threat.
The full statement is below:
Notably, the statement used the term “cancel” instead of”postpone” or “suspend,” indicating that a rescheduled tournament is not a possibility. The final line of the statement seemingly addressed that, mentioning the “impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decision by other entities.”
Those decisions presumably refer to the athletic travel bans that some universities — such as Kansas and Duke — began to announce earlier on Thursday.
This news became inevitable after the developments in the college basketball world over the past two days.
As of Tuesday morning, Turner Sports executive Jeff Zucker stated on a conference call that planning for the tournament was proceeding as scheduled. Shortly thereafter, the Ivy League announced that it would cancel its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, prompting a Change.com petition to reinstate the events. From there, the Big West and MAC announced they would hold their tournaments behind closed doors and limit access.
On Wednesday, the NCAA made the at-the-time historic announcement that it too would ban spectators from the NCAA Tournament, prompting all conferences to eventually follow suit, although Wednesday games around the country generally took place with fans in the stands.
On Thursday morning, conferences began outright cancelling league tournaments, with all leagues having followed suit by mid-day. As such, it seemed only a matter of time before the NCAA made a similar announcement.
Clearly, the ramifications of a cancelled tournament are minor the grand scheme of a serious public health crisis. However, as it relates to college basketball, a key talking point over the offseason will be the possibility of an extra year of eligibility for seniors. Thoughts on this have already begun circulating on Twitter:
Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton:— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) March 12, 2020
“Seniors, if they want, should have another year. Special permission on scholarship numbers for an unprecedented circumstance. Next year only.”