March Madness Canceled Due to Coronavirus, NCAA Announces

The coronavirus outbreak shut down the NCAA tournament, despite hopes it could become May Madness.

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The coronavirus pandemic has suspended every major professional sports league in the United States, so it was only a matter of time before the NCAA canceled March Madness. Duke University and Kansas University, two star teams in the world of men's college basketball, were among the schools that had already decided to suspend all athletic activities indefinitely in an effort to contain coronavirus—even before the NCAA's announcement.

The college basketball tournament was scheduled to kick off this weekend with the annual tradition known as "Selection Sunday." For college hoops fans, it's a day held with Christmas morning-like anticipation, as CBS Sports unveils the tournament bracket, including overall seedings and, of course, which teams are in and which are left out.

Before the NCAA made the announcement, ESPN college basketball correspondent Jeff Goodman talked to "nearly 10 of the top coaches" in the NCAA and revealed that they hoped to continue with Selection Sunday and postpone the tournament.

Selection Sunday is a huge business. CBS and Turner Sports pay billions of dollars for the rights to broadcast the games each year. Of course, that money is more than made up with advertisers and sponsors, and many of the dollars are shared across the teams and athletic leagues that participate. So no tournament means no money for a lot of institutions.

Which is why there was so much hope that the tournament would be suspended, not canceled. Instead of March Madness in 2020, insiders thought it'd become May Madness, in hopes that, by then, the coronavirus pandemic would have subsided.

Former Sports Illustrated writer/editor Stewart Mandel, who oversees the wildly popular subscription sports site The Athletic, floated such an idea on Twitter. Again, before the NCAA announcement, he suggested the following possible solution:

So if you are super bummed that March Madness won't be happening this year—and that May Madness won't either—you're hardly alone.

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