BREAKING: NCAA Tournaments to be held without fans in attendance


Kentucky fans boo the referees after a foul call during the game against Auburn on Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 73-66 clinching the SEC regular season title. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

Braden Ramsey

The only sounds you’ll definitively hear in March Madness are the ref’s whistles, squeaking shoes and the bounce of a ball. 

NCAA President Mark Emmert announced this evening that upcoming championship events – including both the Division One Men’s and Women’s NCAA Basketball Tournaments – will be held with “only essential staff and limited family attendance” to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). 

“This decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and, most importantly, our student-athletes,” Emmert added. “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 men’s SEC Tournament is scheduled to begin tonight and go through Sunday afternoon. Tonight’s games continued as regularly scheduled, but the SEC decided to follow suit for the remainder of its tournament.

The ruling not only applies to the men’s basketball tournament, but all regular season contests in all sports on SEC campuses. The NCAA Men’s and Women’s Rifle Championships and Zone C Diving Championships – which Kentucky is hosting this weekend – have reduced attendance to only those with a participating team pass. 

According to an update provided by UK Athletics, each member of participating team travel parties for rifle will be allowed up to six guests on the pass list. Each participant in the diving championships will be allowed one guest, with each team allowed an additional two guests.

Earlier this week, the conference said media members would not have the customary locker room access it usually has at the men’s basketball tournament, and that there would be a number of new cleaning policies implemented. 

Governor Andy Beshear stated in a press conference shortly after Emmert’s announcement that he believed the SEC should follow the NCAA decision. 

Kentucky is currently scheduled to take on the winner of the Alabama-Tennessee second round matchup in the quarterfinals on Friday. 

*This story has been updated, and will be updated as new information comes forward.*