Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren speaks to the media after canceling the men's basketball tournament on Thursday, March 12, 2020, in Indianapolis. Detroit Free Press
March Madness is over before it began.
The NCAA announced Thursday it will cancel its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments and other events due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
This would include the NCAA wrestling championships.
NCAA officials said president Mark Emmert canceled all NCAA-sponsored events at every division and other winter and spring championships a day after the COVID-19 virus outbreak was deemed a pandemic Wednesday by the World Health Organization.
"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," the NCAA said in a release. "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."
Before the announcement, both Duke and Kansas announced they would not participate in the NCAA tournament.
Iowa athletic director Gary Barta shared his support for the decision in a prepared release.
“My heart aches for our student-athletes, coaches, and athletic staff, as our spring sport seasons are cut short, especially for our seniors. I sympathize with our winter sports teams who were primed to compete at their upcoming NCAA Championship events," Barta said. "We will do everything in our power to provide our full support for everyone in Iowa athletics as we move forward through the spring semester.”
The remainder of the Big Ten sports season for the academic year were also canceled, the league announced this afternoon.
The NCAA initially announced Wednesday it would hold the Division I basketball tournaments and other championships in front of near-empty arenas with only athletes, coaches, immediate family and essential staff present.
It is the first time the NCAA men’s basketball tournament has ever been canceled. It began in 1939 and continued despite World War II.
Thursday’s decision also includes the NCAA Division I wrestling championships, where Iowa was favored to win.
The Big Ten and other conferences canceled the remainder of their postseason tournaments Thursday. Most closed their events to fans Wednesday, but the Big Ten did not.
The Ivy League canceled the men's and women's tournaments on Wednesday. The AAC canceled its tournament minutes before the Big Ten announced its decision. Within an hour, all Power 5 leagues — the ACC, Big Ten, SEC, Big 12 and Pac-12 — had canceled their tournaments, and other leagues such as the American, Atlantic 10, Conference USA, MAC, America East, Big Sky and WAC followed suit.
The NBA, G-League, NHL and MLS have suspended their seasons, and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Wednesday ordered potential NCAA men’s hoops games in Dayton and Cleveland to be played without fans before the NCAA’s edict. Both Michigan and Ohio State also have canceled their spring football games, while MSU has yet to make an announcement.