11:53 AM ET
Myron MedcalfESPN Staff Writer
- Covers college basketball
- Joined ESPN.com in 2011
- Graduate of Minnesota State University, Mankato
Due to challenges associated with the coronavirus pandemic, the entire 2021 NCAA men’s basketball tournament will be played in one location, the NCAA announced Monday.
The NCAA said it is in talks with Indianapolis and the surrounding metro area to be that location.
The decision comes after NCAA officials met to consider a variety of contingency plans. The move means that 13 sites across the country will no longer host a preliminary round of the NCAA tournament.
“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 athletic director, in the announcement. “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.”
The NCAA’s announcement said that sending teams across the country could create logistical challenges while also posing a risk of spreading COVID-19. It has been clear in recent months that the NCAA would do whatever it felt necessary to host the NCAA tournament. Last year’s cancellation cost the NCAA $375 million.
“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, in the announcement. “However, we are developing a solid plan to present a safe, responsible and fantastic March Madness tournament unlike any other we’ve experienced.”