This plan of restricting travel and keeping athletes in a controlled environment is in some ways similar to the bladder build-ups that allowed professional leagues like the NBA to return to the game successfully. The NCAA continues to plan to hold the tournament in March and April.
“My committee colleagues and I did not lightly make the difficult decision to postpone the 2021 preliminary rounds because we understand the disappointment 13 churches will feel when they are not part of March Madness next year,” said Mitch Barnhart, Chairman of the Division I men’s basketball committee and director of sport for the University of Kentucky, it said in a statement.
“With the University of Kentucky scheduled to host first and second round games in March, this has a direct impact on our school and community. We are sure to share your regrets,” continued Barnhart. “The committee and staff deeply appreciate the efforts of all host institutions and conferences, and we look forward to hosting the tournament at the affected locations again in the years to come.”
The NCAA has not announced any plans to adjust the women’s basketball tournament this season.
Cities where the preliminaries of the 2021 men’s basketball tournament should take place include Dayton, Ohio, which would have hosted the first four rounds, and eight locations for first and second round games – Boise, Dallas, Detroit, USA. Providence, Lexington, Raleigh, San Jose and Wichita. The four regional games were to take place in Denver, Minneapolis, Brooklyn and Memphis. The Final Four should already take place in Indianapolis.
“We have learned so much from monitoring other successful sporting events over the past few months and it has become clear that it is not possible to manage this complex championship in so many different states facing the challenges of the pandemic,” said Dan Gavitt, senior the NCAA vice president of basketball said in a statement, “We are however developing a solid plan to bring about a safe, responsible and fantastic March Madness tournament like we have never seen before.”
As the college basketball season nears its start date on November 25th, dozens of programs have suspended their practices because of coronavirus cases in their programs. Some schools have already postponed or canceled games in the preseason. Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo and Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim recently tested positive for the virus.
Some early season tournaments were retired or rescheduled. The Maui Invitational will now be held in Asheville, NC. Some of the teams that planned to compete in a tournament in the Bahamas will play in South Dakota instead.
Once the season starts, postponements and cancellations will likely become a challenge for college basketball, just as many college football programs have had to adjust their schedules in recent weeks. But now basketball at least has a plan for the end of the season and the sport will hope to get to that point without too many interruptions.