UPDATE (3:30 p.m): The NCAA Tournament has been cancelled in response to concerns about COVID-19, commonly known as the coronavirus.
Neither the men's nor women's tournament will be played in any capacity. In addition, all NCAA championships remaining – including the College World Series – will be cancelled. The college sports season, at least nationally, is officially over.
"This decision is in the best interest of our public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and, most importantly, our student-athletes," said NCAA president Mark Emmert. "We recognize the opportunity to compete in an NCAA national championship is the experience of a lifetime for the students and their families."
Original story: NCAA Tournament games will not be open to fans due to concerns about transmission of COVID-19, commonly referred to as the coronavirus.
NCAA president Mark Emmert announced the decision in a statement on Wednesday afternoon. Only essential staff and some family will be allowed to attend both the men’s and women’s NCAA Tournament games.
"The NCAA continues to assess the impact of COVID-19 in consulatation with public health officials and our COVID-19 advisory panel," Emmert wrote. "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."
The decision comes on the heels of multiple colleges canceling in-person classes and moving to online instruction. The Ivy League also recently canceled every one of its spring competitions; those participating in winter competition, like the NCAA Tournament, will still have the option to attend.
In the hours since the announcement, Conference USA and the SEC both announced that their events would be closed to the general public. The Big 12 is giving out 125 total tickets per team for teams in its tournament games.
The state of Ohio, which was set to host NCAA Tournament games, recently sent an order that all must be played without fans. The NBA shockingly announced that it would suspend the season on Wednesday, effective immediately.
There were conversations about completely canceling the NCAA Tournament. However, the NCAA felt it adequate to limit the size of crowds. Fans will be able to watch games on television as usual. However, the backdrop will be eerily different.
There have been no known adjustments to conference championships involving Texas schools at this time.
More than 115,000 people have been infected with COVID-19 globally, including more than 1,000 in the United States. The virus has killed more than 4,200 people worldwide. The World Health Organization officially labeled the virus a pandemic, the first such declaration since the H1N1 Swine Flu pandemic in 2009.