NCAA President Mark Emmert says NCAA Division I basketball tournament games will not be open to the general public because of concerns about the spread of coronavirus, the AP reports. Emmert said in a statement Wednesday that he made the decision to conduct both the men's and women's tournaments, which begin next week, with only essential staff and limited family in attendance. The decision comes after the NCAA's COVID-19 advisory panel of medical experts recommended against playing sporting events open to the general public. "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," ESPN quotes Emmert as saying.
"This decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and, most importantly, our student-athletes," he adds. The 68-team field for the men's tournament is scheduled to be announced Sunday and the 64-team women's tournament field is to be unveiled Monday. Games begin Tuesday and Wednesday on the men's side in Dayton, Ohio, where earlier Wednesday the governor ordered to restrict spectator access to indoor sporting events. (See why WHO is using the "P-word" to describe the coronavirus outbreak.)