The NCAA announced Wednesday that both the men’s and women’s Division I basketball tournaments will proceed without fans in attendance due to the nationwide fear of the coronavirus.
Belmont students have traveled on school sponsored fan buses to the conference tournament and NCAA Tournament in the past.
“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,” said Mark Emmert NCAA president in a press release.
Only limited family and essential team personnel will be allowed in the arenas during tournament games, according to the release.
“This decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and, most importantly, our student-athletes,” said Emmert in the press release.
This announcement comes only four days after Belmont punched its ticket to their second straight NCAA Tournament.
“This is a fluid situation for everyone, and we will respect and abide by recommendations set forth,” said Casey Alexander, Belmont head coach.
The university also canceled the Selection Sunday watch party after Belmont announced on Tuesday an extended Spring Break and that all classes be put online until early April due to fears of the virus.
Senior basketball player Seth Adelsperger is just excited to give it one last go around with his teammates and says NCAA’s decision won’t change that excitement.
“We are excited to be in the tournament and today’s announcement doesn’t change that,” said Adelsperger. “Another opportunity to play with my teammates and be in the bracket is what matters. We are listening to the experts and our training staff, and continue to take heed to their advice.”
The NCAA’s decision comes right after the state of Ohio announced new rules limiting mass gatherings like concerts and sporting events, according to the Twitter account of Gov. Mike DeWine. Dayton and Cleveland are both host cities on the 2020 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
“I was a little sad, I’m not going to lie. I was planning on going no matter where it was,” said sophomore and Belmont basketball fan Cailyn Currie.
As a fan, she said she is extremely upset she can’t cheer on the Bruins at March Madness, but understands the situation at hand and thinks it was a good decision from the NCAA.
“I totally understand where they are coming from. They are taking precautions, which is super good,” said Currie. “I like their decision, it’s just hard not being able to go.”
Currie attended every basketball game this season as well as the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament in Evansville, Indiana. She watched the Bruins beat Murray State on Saturday, but now, she can only watch on TV with the rest of the country.
“I’d like to think they can hear us from out there,” said Currie. “I think it’s going to be different because it’s going to be silent I feel.”
“I think it’s going to be different for them, but it’s also going to be different for us because we’re all going to be sitting at home screaming at our TV’s.”
Photos by Bronte Lebo.