A look inside U.S. Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis, site of the 2020 NCAAs (Photo/Trex Commercial Products)
In an unprecedented move, the NCAA announced late Wednesday afternoon that its national sports championships -- including the 2020 NCAA championships in all three divisions -- will be closed to fans, and open only to athletes, coaches, limited families and essential staff, due to the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Mark Emmert, NCAA President, issued the following statement:
"The NCAA continues to assess the impact of COVID-19 in consultation with public health officials and our COVID-19 advisory panel. Based on their advice and my discussion with the NCAA Board of Governors, I have made the decision to conduct upcoming championship events with only essential staff and limited family attendance. While I understand how disappointing this is for 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 the coaches, administrators, and, most importantly, our student-athletes. We recognize the opportunity to compete in an NCAA national championship is an experience of a lifetime for students and their families. Today we will move forward and conduct the championships consistent with current information and will continue to monitor and make adjustments as needed."
In the years since the first NCAA Wrestling Championships took place at Iowa State in 1928, the only time the Nationals were not was during World War II. The mat championships were suspended from 1942 through 1945. The event resumed in March 1946.
The World Health Organization called the coronavirus a pandemic on Wednesday.
"This is the first pandemic caused by coronavirus," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared at a briefing in Geneva.
On Wednesday, the Ivy League announced a decision to cancel all spring athletics practice and competition through the remainder of the academic year amid further developments.