NCAA to Allow Fans at March Madness – Within Limits
19 Feb, 2021
The madness is on – but within limits.
The NCAA has announced its long-awaited spectator attendance policies for its March Division I basketball tournaments, which will take place in Indianapolis (men) and San Antonio (women).
For the men’s tournament, NCAA will allow up to 25% spectator capacity with social distancing at all venues hosting events, including all rounds and the Final Four
For the women’s tournament, games will be held with a capacity of up to 17% from the Sweet Sixteen through the Women’s Final Four.
In both cases, the decision to limit capacity while requiring masks and physical distancing was made in conjunction with local health authorities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The event capacity will include all participants, essential staff and family members of each participating team’s student-athletes and coaches and a reduced number of fans. All attendees must wear face coverings and physically distance during the event. Thorough cleaning, disinfecting and safety measures will be a priority in all venues.
“We continue to use the knowledge we have gained over the season on how to conduct games in a safe environment,” said NCAA President Mark Emmert.
The NCAA announced on January 4 that it would stage the entire 2021 men’s basketball championship in Indiana, with the majority of the tournament’s 67 games taking place in Indianapolis; on February 8, the organization noted that San Antonio would be the host site for the women’s tournament.
The NCAA formalized the COVID-19 health and safety protocols for the championship in conjunction with local authorities. The protocols include testing, face coverings, physical distancing and contact tracing requirements before teams arrive and throughout their stay in the tournament.
“The number one priority for decisions around the tournament continues to be the safety and well-being of everyone participating in the event,” said NCAA Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brian Hainline. “We have been in regular conversations with the NCAA COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group and local health officials to make sure we have the right protocols in place to provide a safe environment. Additionally, IU Health is providing critical testing and monitoring services enabling us to safely conduct the tournament.”
The men’s tournament will be hosted by Ball State, Butler, the Horizon League, Indiana, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and Purdue, which are lending their facilities and staffs to assist with tournament operations. The Indiana Convention Center will be used as a practice facility, with multiple courts set up inside the venue.
For the women’s tournament in San Antonio, first- and second-round play will take place March 21-24 at the Alamodome, Bill Greehey Arena on the campus of St. Mary’s (Texas), Frank Erwin Center (Texas), University Events Center (Texas State) and the UTSA Convocation Center, attendance will be limited to team players and guests, with each member of the 34-member official team travel party allowed up to six tickets for guests.
From the Sweet Sixteen through the Women’s Final Four taking place at the Alamodome, the 17% capacity will include all participants, family members of each participating team’s student-athletes and coaches, essential staff and a reduced number of fans. Sweet Sixteen games will be played March 27-28, Elite Eight games held March 29-30 and the Women’s Final Four conducted April 2 and 4.