The 2020 men's and women's NCAA basketball tournaments, as well as all other remaining winter and spring championships, have been canceled, the NCAA announced Thursday.
"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."
This marks the first year the NCAA tournament has not been played since its inception in 1939. That year, the event featured only eight teams, and Oregon beat Ohio State to win the first championship.
Turner Sports and CBS Sports issued a joint statement on the cancelation of the tournament.
"We are fully supportive of the NCAA's decision to cancel this year's NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship," the statement said. "We'll continue to work closely with the NCAA and all of our partners as we prioritize the health and well-being of everyone involved."
On Wednesday, the NCAA announced that it was still planning to hold the tournament without fans being present. But earlier Thursday, all of the scheduled men's conference tournaments were canceled due to coronavirus concerns.
Emmert told Sports Illustrated and The Athletic in an exclusive sit-down interview that the "one thing we have to make sure of is that these young men and women get to compete in a championship." That appears to no longer be the case.
“The past 48 hours, we saw some pretty drastic turns,” Emmert said Wednesday.
Before cancelling the tournament in its entirety, the NCAA was already exploring the possibility of moving the Final Four out of Atlanta. It additionally looked at potentially moving its regional finals to new locations.
Throughout the week, countless conference tournaments announced that they were also prohibiting fan access in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prior to the cancelation of March Madness, dozens of NCAA member schools have shut down campuses and sent students home.
The news of the NCAA cancelling college basketball's biggest event comes just one day after the NBA decided to suspend its action until further notice. The NBA made its decision Wednesday after a player on the Utah Jazz tested positive for coronavirus. The NBA G League was also suspended.
MLB also suspended its operations on Thursday, and the NHL, MLS and ATP announced suspensions as well. President Trump also suggested Thursday that the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo should be postponed for one year amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Globally, the spread of coronavirus has had a major impact on countless other sporting events throughout the world. The World Health Organization declared a pandemic on Wednesday. There are more than 130,000 confirmed cases of the virus across at least 111 countries.