For the 2021 Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee has relocated 13 predetermined preliminary round venues. To decide the most successful way to execute a safe and balanced March Madness for all participants for the 2021 championship, the move follows a comprehensive contingency planning procedure.
Through these discussions, the association said, it became evident to the committee that it would be very difficult to conduct the championship in the current pandemic climate at 13 preliminary round sites spread across the world. Consequently, to increase the safety and well-being of the event, it was determined that the championship should be held in a single geographic location.
NCAA employees are now engaged in informal negotiations with the State of Indiana and the City of Indianapolis during the coordinated dates in March and April to eventually host the 68-team tournament across the metropolitan area. From April 3 to 5, 2021, Indianapolis was already slated to host the Men’s Final Four.
Mitch Barnhart, chair of the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee and athletics director at the University of Kentucky, explained: “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.
“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 committee stressed the importance of holding the championship in a manageable geographical area that restricts travel and offers a safe and regulated atmosphere for teams and officials in close proximity to each other with competition and practise venues, medical services and accommodation.
NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt stated: “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. However, we are developing a solid plan to present a safe, responsible and fantastic March Madness tournament unlike any other we’ve experienced.”
NCAA President Mark Emmert said: “The committee and staff have thoughtfully monitored the pandemic to develop potential contingency plans.
“The Board of Governors and my top priorities are to protect the health and well-being of college athletes while also maintaining their opportunity to compete at the highest level. These principles have guided the decision-making process as we continue to assess how to have a fair and safe championship experience.”
The 67 games of the tournament will continue to be broadcast by CBS Sports and Turner Sports via TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV, and their streaming channels.