NCAA to allow fans at Division I men's basketball tournament

Feb. 19 (UPI) — The NCAA will allow a limited number of fans at the 2021 Division I men’s basketball tournament, the governing body of college sports said Friday.

NCAA officials said the decision to allow up to 25% capacity at tournament venues, with physical distancing, was made in conjunction with state and local health authorities in Indiana. Attendees will be required to wear masks.

Officials announced in January that the entire 67-game tournament will be held in Indiana to better control the environment for the event’s participants amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Selection Sunday, the annual day that teams find out if they earned a spot in the tournament, is planned for March 14. Tournament play starts March 16 and 17. The Final Four is scheduled for April 3 and 5.

“We continue to use the knowledge we have gained over the season on how to conduct games in a safe environment,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said Friday in a news release.

Most of the games for the men’s tournament will be held in Indianapolis. Tournament games in the city will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse and Indiana Farmers Coliseum.

Mackey Arena in West Lafayette and Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington also will host games. Indiana University announced Friday that up to 500 fans will be allowed to attend tournament games in Bloomington.

Tournament attendance allowances for each venue vary based on its capacity. Lucas Oil Stadium has a capacity of about 70,000 for basketball and is the largest venue for the tournament.

“This year’s tournament will be like no other, and while we know it won’t be the same for anyone, we are looking forward to providing a memorable experience for the student-athletes, coaches and fans at a once-in-a-lifetime tournament,” NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt said.

“After the cancellation of the 2020 tournament, we are happy to welcome some fans back to all rounds of the Division I men’s basketball tournament.”

The NCAA has not announced plans for fans to attend the 2021 Division I women’s basketball tournament, which will be held March 21 to April 4 in San Antonio.

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