The NCAA announced Monday evening they will allow spring athletes an extra year of eligibility after the spring season was upended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After the announcement was made, many fans immediately noticed that this was only for spring athletes (baseball, softball, lacrosse, etc.) and not for winter athletes. Winter athletes, including basketball, had their seasons suddenly cut short as the pandemic dramatically increased in severity in February and March, right as these teams were entering postseason play.
In their official statement, the NCAA cited excluding winter athletes from the extension because their regular season had either ended or had been nearly completed.
Winter sports were not included in the decision. Council members declined to extend eligibility for student-athletes in sports where all or much of their regular seasons were completed.
In response to COVID-19, the NCAA announced Thursday they've officially canceled the 2020 men's and women's basketball tournaments.
"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," the NCAA said in a statement.
"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."
There briefly was hope the tournaments could go on without fans, but as the circumstances around the coronavirus grow, it became clear cancelation was inevitable and the only reasonable option.
Thirteen conferences had already canceled their conference tournaments at the time of the announcement. This includes the A10, AAC, ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, MAC, Pac 12 and SEC.
Various local governments have made decisions to cancel events with large crowds, but nothing on a national scale had been decided. Now the NCAA has decided to limit crowds for all upcoming championship events, including both the men’s and women’s tournaments.
The NCAA released a statement on Wednesday from NCAA president Mark Emmert.
“The NCAA continues to assess the impact of COVID-19 in consultation with public health officials and our COVID-19 advisory panel,” the statement read. “Based on their advice and my discussions 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. This decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and, most importantly, our student-athletes.”
For Illinois schools in the men’s tournament, Bradley won the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament to clinch a spot. Illinois is also expected to get a berth.
On the women’s side, Northwestern and DePaul are highly-ranked teams that have a chance to host the first two rounds.