The NCAA released a statement this afternoon, advising against all sporting events being open to the public.
Already, the following schools had decided to close their arenas to the public this weekend for college hockey postseason games: Rensselaer, Cornell, Penn State, Massachusetts and Massachusetts-Lowell. Others are sure to follow suit. even though this weekend’s conference tournament games are not under the NCAA’s jurisdiction, per se.
“COVID-19 is spreading rapidly in the United States, and behavioral risk mitigation strategies are the best option for slowing the spread of this disease,” the NCAA’s COVID-19 Advisory Panel said in the statement. “This is especially important because mildly symptomatic individuals can transmit COVID-19. Given these considerations, coupled with a more unfavorable outcome of COVID-19 in older adults – especially those with underlying chronic medical conditions – we recommend against sporting events open to the public.
“We do believe sport events can take place with only essential personnel and limited family attendance, and this protects our players, employees, and fans.”
This decision will impact the entire NCAA hockey tournament — including Regionals and Frozen Four.
The Regionals are scheduled for March 27-29 in Allentown, Pa., Loveland, Colo., Worcester, Mass., and Albany, N.Y. The Frozen Four is April 9-11 in Detroit.
NCAA president Mark Emmert followed with a statement of his own.
“I have made the decision to conduct our upcoming championship events, including the Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, with only essential staff and limited family attendance. While I understand how disappointing this is for all 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 coaches, administrators, fans and, most importantly, our student-athletes. We recognize the opportunity to compete in an NCAA national championship is an experience of a lifetime for the students and their families. Today, we will move forward and conduct championships consistent with the current information and will continue to monitor and make adjustments as needed.”