March will be a little less mad than usual this year: The NCAA has cancelled the annual March Madness men’s college basketball tournament in light of the global coronavirus pandemic.
The women’s college basketball tournament is cancelled as well, the organization confirmed in a statement on Thursday, along with all other remaining winter and spring NCAA championships: “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.”
March Madness, which was to begin next week and run through the men’s championship game on Monday, April 6, was slated to air on CBS and Turner Sports, with the championship airing on TBS. Just yesterday, the NCAA planned to hold its basketball tournaments as scheduled, but without fans in the stands.
This marks the latest in a number of sports-related delays and cancellations due to the spread of coronavirus, aka COVID-19, with more than 1,300 cases reported in the United States at press time. Earlier on Thursday, Major League Baseball pushed back the start of the regular season for at least two weeks and cancelled spring training. The NBA suspended its season on Wednesday night after All-Star player Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus, and the NHL followed suit on Thursday.