One of the unfortunate byproducts of the COVID-19 pandemic last year was the lack of March Madness. However, for 2021, the NCAA is ready to allow a limited number of fans into the men’s college basketball tournament.
This past Friday, the NCAA made an announcement that they will now be allowed to let a quarter of their capacity in for all Final Four rounds of the 2021 men’s NCAA tournament. The capacity will also include family members of every team playing, essential workers, staff, coaches, and any other event participants.
There will be a requirement in place for attendees to wear masks and practice social distancing measures in place. Proper cleaning, disinfecting, and other safety measures, will be put in place for all of the events and will be a priority of the NCAA.
A Recent Release From The NCAA
In a recent release from the NCAA, “The decision to allow up to 25% capacity with physical distancing was made in conjunction with state and local health authorities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The NCAA also made an announcement in January that, due to the pandemic, it will be holding all of the games in Indiana. Most of the 67 games in the tournament will be held in Indianapolis.
In the recent release this past Friday, Mark Emmert, NCAA President, said, “We continue to use the knowledge we have gained over the season on how to conduct games in a safe environment.”
This is an unprecedented centralized location for one of the largest events in the men’s college basketball realm, as it is usually spread across the country in 13 different states.
However, for this year, the games will take place on dual courts inside Lucas Oil Stadium, as well as Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Purdue’s Mackey Arena, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, and Indiana’s Assembly Hall, spread across Indianapolis, Bloomington, and West Lafayette.
The games in Lucas Oil Stadium will take place one at a time.
A Word From the Vice President
Dan Gavit, NCAA senior vice president of basketball, said in the release statement last Friday, “This year’s tournament will be like no other, and while we know it won’t be the same for anyone, we are looking forward to providing a memorable experience for the student-athletes, coaches, and fans at a once-in-a-lifetime tournament.”
The March Madness tournament is set in place to start on March 18.
Gavit also said, “After the cancellation of the 2020 tournament, we are happy to welcome some fans back to all rounds of the Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament.”
For the world of sports, this is great news, as the NCAA has been one of the most precautions sporting organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic, very wary of allowing fans to attend games at all.
The NCAA believes that continued herd immunity, the acceleration of vaccines, and the ability to limit capacity, are signs that this is now possible. This move shows that the organization has confidence in the direction that the pandemic is moving in and will hopefully act as the start of a return to normalcy.