FIU Basketball, Other NCAA Tournaments Will Be Without Fans Due To Covid-19

FIU's home arena, the Ocean Bank Covocation Center. Photo courtesy of FIU Athletics.

Dalton Tevlin/Sports Director

All NCAA Men and Women’s basketball tournaments will be played with only necessary staff and close family members, NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. 

For FIU men’s basketball, the game tonight against the Rice Owls in the first round of the Conference USA tournament has not been impacted and will play with fans in attendance. 

“The NCAA continues to assess the impact of COVID-19 in consultation with public health officials and our COVID-19 advisory panel,” Emmert said in the statement. “… I have made the decision to conduct our upcoming championship events, including the Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, with only essential staff and limited family attendance.”

COVID-19, or Coronavirus, has infected hundreds of people across the United States and the NCAA Board Of Governors believes this is the right step to stop the spread of the Naval Coronavirus. 

“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. This decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and, most importantly, our student-athletes,” the statement continued.

While tonight will continue as planned, this may be the last game of the season the Panthers will play in front of fans. 

March Madness is one of the largest revenue-generating events in sports, garnering over 933 million dollars in revenue in 2019, a good chunk coming from ticket sales. 

The decision to bar fans from the arenas has been a discussion among all sports leagues nationwide. The Golden State Warriors will be playing in an empty arena after San Francisco banned any gatherings over a thousand people. 

It remains to be seen if the restrictions will be lifted in time for the NCAA Championship on April 6th, but expect this to be the status quo for the time being. 

PantherNOW will continue to provide updates.

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