NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt said Wednesday that despite uncertainty pertaining to COVID-19, there will be March Madness in 2021.
"We are going to have a tournament," Gavitt said in a conversation with Andy Katz, 2021 selection committee chair Mitch Barnhart and longtime basketball coach Craig Robinson. "It’s going to be special. We have our preferences about how we’d like to have it be, but if we have to adjust to the virus, which we don’t control, we will adjust accordingly. The health and safety of the players and the coaches and all the people around the games — the referees and fans — will be primary. But ultimately it will also include determining a national champion in the fairest and most equitable way that we can under these unusual circumstances.
Gavitt added that they are planning for possible contingencies, but did not go into specifics citing that "that’s not what our primary goal is.”
"Our first and primary goal and preference is to have the tournament on the dates that are set at the venues that are predetermined," Gavitt said. "But if the virus necessitates a different path, we will adjust accordingly."
On Tuesday, both the Big Ten and Pac-12 postponed their fall sports seasons. The Pac-12, in particular, postponed all athletic competitions until at least the end of this calendar year, meaning that both men's and women's basketball among other sports will be impacted.
The 2020 men's and women's NCAA basketball tournaments were canceled just days before they were set to begin last March.
It marked the first year the NCAA men's basketball tournament has not been played since its inception in 1939.