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Amid COVID-19 Worries, NCAA Places Attendance Restrictions on Upcoming Postseason Events

by on March 11, 2020 5:14 PM

The NCAA announced on Wednesday afternoon that the men's and women's basketball tournaments and all upcoming championship events will take place effectively behind closed doors as the nation continues to monitor and combat the spread of the COVID-19.

"The NCAA continues to assess the impact of COVID-19 in consultation with public health officials and our COVID-19 advisory panel," NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement. "Based on their advice and my discussion with the NCAA Board of Governors, 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. 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."

"The decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and, most importantly, our student-athletes. We recognize the opportunity to compete in an NCAA national championship is an experience of a lifetime for the students and their families. Today, we will move forward and conduct championships consistent with the current information and will continue to monitor and make adjustments as needed."

The Big Ten also announced on Wednesday night that beginning Thursday attendance at the conference basketball tournament in Indanapolis will be limited to athletes, coaches, event staff, essential team and Conference staff, TV network partners, credentialed media, and immediate family members of the participating teams.

Penn State men's basketball is slated to play Thursday at approximately 9 p.m. against the winner of Wednesday's game between Indiana and Nebraska. The Nittany Lions do not know their postseason NCAA regional destination, but will learn their travel fate on Sunday.

The conference added that all further Big Ten events this spring will have the same attendance restrictions.

Beyond basketball, more localized impacts include several on-campus events that will take place without fans in attendance, including this Saturday's Big Ten Hockey Tournament semifinal between Penn State and Minnesota at Pegula Ice Arena. Penn State men's lacrosse is also scheduled to play two of its final three remaining regular season home games prior to April 3 when Penn State's own implemented restrictions are slated to be re-evaluated.

Those restrictions were announced on Wednesday afternoon as well. 

Additionally, fan restrictions extend to Penn State hockey's NCAA Tournament regional hosting obligations March 28-29 in Allentown at the PPL Center, and the rest of the NCAA Tournament.

Penn State wrestling is also slated to head to Minneapolis next week from March 19-21 for the NCAA Tournament which will take place in front of the empty stands at US Bank Stadium.

No announcement has been made at this time regarding potential refunds for national events.

According to an earlier Penn State press release, the following groups will be allowed to attend on-campus sporting events:

- Essential personnel as designated by Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics;

- Participating student-athletes, coaches and staff;

- Families of participating student-athletes, coaches and staff;

- Media;

- Penn State recruits.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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