UPDATED: 5:33 p.m.
The NCAA has announced the cancellation of women’s and men’s basketball tournaments, known as March Madness, according NBC News.
“Today, NCAA President Mark Emmert and the Board of Governors canceled the Division I men’s and women’s 2020 basketball tournaments, as well as all 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,” the NCAA said in a statement.
The NBA recently announced the indefinite cancellation of the remaining basketball season due to the rapid spreading of the coronavirus. However, the NCAA conversely has decided to hold its’ men’s and women’s basketball tournaments without fans in attendance. The college basketball league has been criticized by many for their decision, including former NBA player and sports analyst Jay Williams, who said on ESPN Radio that the NCAA tournaments should be canceled until further notice.
“This decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and, most importantly, our student-athletes,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement, according to ESPN. “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.
While on ESPN Radio, Williams suggested that the NCAA should follow after the NBA’s precautionary measures and cancel their tournaments. “You can’t think practically about this if you don’t think about canceling the NCAA tournament,” he said. “I think you have to cancel the NCAA tournament. As a purist basketball fan and a basketball junkie, a guy who always – I’ve been doing college basketball for 10 years before I started doing NBA basketball here. It’s my favorite time of the year, I love the playoffs, I love the NBA finals, I love NCAA tournaments, March Madness, there’s nothing like it.”
Williams continued, “But, we saw an example last night that you don’t want to put these players in that type of position to breathe on one another, to rub sweat against one another, and then to expose themselves, or to expose their families. Conferences tournaments that are being played today need to be canceled or postponed and it’s the same with the NCAA tournament, just like it was the same way with the NBA.
Williams was possibly alluding to Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert testing positive for coronavirus after jokingly touching the microphones and recording devices following a postgame news conference.
“It all needs to be postponed, guys,” he added. “It’s where we are.”
Williams faced criticism for his thoughts on the NCAA canceling tournaments from the social media court of public opinion.
“Don’t listen to Jay Williams, the NBA, or espn either. They aren’t experts. With that being said I can’t trust the experts either. They are so melodramatic,” one person tweeted.
“The issue with postponing the NCAA tournament is logistics. The venues are booked YEARS in advance, multiple sites, arenas, and cities, and days needed. To simply postpone as jay williams suggested isn’t doable. Madison Square Garden doesn’t have open dates a few months out,” said another.
However, there were many others who shared his sentiment.
A third person said, “Jay Williams and Charles Barkley are getting yelled at by Degenerate Gambler and Buffalo Wild Wings Blazin’ Rewards Twitter. Schools are closed, the NBA is on hiatus: Nobody owes your inner frat bro a basketball tournament.”
While not giving any indication of tournament cancelations, according to ESPN, the NCAA president told The Associated Press that they looking into moving the games to smaller arenas, “all sites for next week’s men’s games will remain the same unless conditions in those areas force relocation,” additionally they will implement “a protocol for the medical screening of people entering the arenas is still being worked out, along with what constitutes essential staff and how to define family members.”