After the NBA suspended its season on Wednesday night following the news that Jazz center Rudy Gobert had tested positive for COVID-19, Thursday saw most major sports follow suit. MLS, MLB and the NHL all suspended the season for at least a few weeks, while conference tournaments around college hoops that had shifted to being played in empty arenas went ahead and canceled the events.
The biggest domino left to fall was the NCAA Tournament, men’s and women’s, which had been announced as still going on without fans attending on Wednesday, but after the Gobert news and the scare at the Big Ten tournament involving Fred Hoiberg and the Nebraska team, the decision seemed to be made up for them. The biggest question was whether they would try and postpone the event or cancel it outright, and on Thursday afternoon the announcement from president Mark Emmert came down that they were indeed canceling the tournaments along with all spring and winter championships remaining on the schedule.
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.
It is a gigantic decision, but as we still await testing to be made more readily available, it is almost the only decision there is. Every sick player or coach would be feared to have the virus, and even with fans not at games there are too many people involved that could have contributed to the virus’ spread nationwide. It is certainly a difficult decision for the NCAA, which makes a vast amount of its revenue off the tournament and has thousands of student athletes that have worked all year to the goal of making the various championships that are now canceled, but it was the necessary one.