NCAA Looking to Consolidate March Madness into Single Location for 2021

Michael Marciano
Sports Business Writer

With the NCAA Men’s Division One basketball league resuming play amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, some changes had to be put in place. The biggest of those proposed changes is to confine the NCAA March Madness Tournament into one neutral location. In the pre-COVID days the tournament would be played in locations all across the country. Traditionally, the early rounds of the tournament would be hosted in 13 locations and the entire tournament would be played in over 20 cities. Now, more locations equal a higher risk of catching and transmitting Covid-19. The 68-team tournament has its eyes set on Indianapolis, Indiana for the tournament. In a statement put out by the NCAA, they announced that they are in talks with the city of Indianapolis to host the tournament in arenas across the city.

The NCAA could be moving their marquee tournament to a single location in order to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread (Photo Courtesy of NBC News)

The decision to reduce travel in across the country comes after infection rates for COVID-19 have begun to rise again. For the first time since April, we are seeing a large spike in the number of COVID-19 cases and related deaths. The last thing this country needs right now is a major sporting event spread out across the continental United States. The decision to confine the tournament to Indianapolis was made in the best interest of the players, coaching staff and fans. This year will be a tad different than years in the past- but any college basketball is better than no college basketball.

For the cities and colleges that were supposed to be holding competition for the tournament, they are certainly feeling the impact. Mitch Barnhart, the chair of the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee who also serves as University of Kentucky’s athletics director, said the cancellation “directly impacts” his university and the community.

“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,” Barnhart said. Barnhart is alluding to the potential lost revenue that no longer holding a tournament location brings. Hosting a March Madness game boosts local tourism and local economy, which would definitely assist the businesses damaged most by the pandemic.

As far as the women’s tournament- their fate is unknown. According to the NCAA VP of women’s basketball, Lynn Holtzman, the discussions about the future for the women’s tournament are ongoing. The hope is to have both men and women in competition by March.


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