The NCAA has just announced that they are relocating the 13 predetermined preliminary round sites for the 2021 Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.
According to The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and its effects, the tournament will be played at one location to try to keep the risks of spreading COVID-19 among the players, staff, and participants.
“My committee colleagues and I did not come lightly to the difficult decision to relocate the preliminary rounds of the 2021 tournament, as we understand the disappointment 13 communities will feel to miss out on being part of March Madness next year,” said Mitch Barnhart, chair of the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee and University of Kentucky athletics director. “With the University of Kentucky slated to host first- and second-round games in March, this is something that directly impacts our school and community, so we certainly share in their regret. The committee and staff deeply appreciate the efforts of all the host institutions and conferences, and we look forward to bringing the tournament back to the impacted sites in future years.”
Based on discussions between committee members, NCAA staff are currently in talks with the State of Indiana and the city of Indianapolis to possibly host the 68-team tournament around the metropolitan area during the coordinated dates in March and April. Indianapolis is already slated to host the Men’s Final Four from April 3-5, 2021.
“We have learned so much from monitoring other successful sporting events in the last several months, and it became clear it’s not feasible to manage this complex championship in so many different states with the challenges presented by the pandemic,” said Dan Gavitt, NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball. “However, we are developing a solid plan to present a safe, responsible, and fantastic March Madness tournament unlike any other we’ve experienced.”
“The committee and staff have thoughtfully monitored the pandemic to develop potential contingency plans,” said Mark Emmert, NCAA President. “The Board of Governors and my top priorities are to protect the health and well-being of college athletes while also maintaining their opportunity to compete at the highest level. These principles have guided the decision-making process as we continue to assess how to have a fair and safe championship experience.”