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NCAA basketball tournaments to be played without fans

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Mike Florio explains why he believes sports leagues may be overreacting by preventing media from going in the locker room in hopes of stopping the spread of COVID-19.

March Madness is going to look a lot different this year as the impact of COVID-19’s spread across the United States on the sports world continued on Wednesday with an announcement that will impact one of the country’s biggest annual events.

Shortly after the NCAA’s COVID-19 advisory panel recommended that all sporting events be played without fans in attendance, NCAA president Mark Emmert announced that upcoming championship events will take place with only essential staff and limited family members in attendance. That includes the Division I men’s basketball tournament, which is set to get underway next Tuesday.

“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,” Emmert said in a statement. “This 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 news came as several states have instituted orders calling for no large gatherings of people that would affect sports events at all levels and it seems likely that more will be coming in the near future. For now, however, the NFL has not announced any change to its league meetings or April’s draft.