The 2021 NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament will be held at one location due to COVID-19 concerns, the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee announced in a statement Monday.
The committee said the NCAA is in preliminary talks with the state of Indiana and the city of Indianapolis to host all 68 teams for the entirety of the tournament. Indianapolis was already scheduled to host the Final Four April 3-5, 2021.
“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 athletics director, in the statement.
As COVID-19 cases continue to rise throughout the United States, the committee said the logistics of hosting games at 13 sites for the preliminary rounds would be too difficult.
“The committee and staff have thoughtfully monitored the pandemic to develop potential contingency plans,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in the statement. “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 committee also said configuring a way that “limits travel and provides a safe and controlled environment” for all games played in the tournament was vital in the decision-making process.
The originally scheduled sites for the first and second rounds of the tournament included Boise, Dallas, Detroit, Wichita, Providence, Rhode Island; Lexington, Kentucky; Raleigh, North Carolina; and San Jose, California.
The original locations of the four regional finals were: Denver (West), Minneapolis (Midwest), Brooklyn (East), and Memphis (South).
“The committee and staff deeply appreciate the efforts of all the host institutions and conferences," Barnhart said. "We look forward to bringing the tournament back to the impacted sites in future years."