NCAA in talks to relocate entire March Madness tournament to Indianapolis amid coronavirus uncertainty

The 2021 NCAA Tournament’s 13 predetermined preliminary round sites will be relocated to a single region due to growing concern over the spread of COVID-19, the NCAA announced on Monday.

The NCAA said it is in discussions with the state of Indiana and city of Indianapolis to host the 68-team tournament within the metropolitan area during the scheduled dates in March and April. Indianapolis had already been slated to host the Men’s Final Four from April 3-5.

“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,” Dan Gavitt, NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball, said. “However, we are developing a solid plan to present a safe, responsible and fantastic March Madness tournament unlike any other we’ve experienced.”

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The idea of a “bubble” system has been floated around this season to combat the potential spread of COVID-19, but nothing has been made official in regard to conference or tournament schedules. Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman said the idea of a bubble system for conference play was “a possibility,” but they still intend on going through with their current travel model.

“We are looking at a variety of game formats that would be an alternative to the travel model,” Ackerman said. “We’ve been advised that the travel model can work, and this is Plan A for us.”

Indiana has recorded 5,218 new positive COVID-19 cases between Nov. 5-15 and 26 deaths from COVID-19 since Nov. 13, according to the state’s official dashboard.

Marion County is one of many hot spots across the state with its seven-day all tests positivity rate currently at 9.69%. Positive cases are the highest they’ve been since the first traces of COVID-19 were found back in March, and the county has been experiencing an exponential increase in positive tests since the end of September.

“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,” Dan Gavitt, NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball, said. “However, we are developing a solid plan to present a safe, responsible and fantastic March Madness tournament unlike any other we’ve experienced.”

Justin Sousa can be reached at justin.sousa@student.shu.edu. Follow him on Twitter @JustinSousa99.

Author: Justin Sousa

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