March Madness Canceled Due to Coronavirus, NCAA Announces
The coronavirus outbreak shut down the NCAA tournament, despite hopes it could become May Madness.
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.
— Inside the NCAA (@InsidetheNCAA) March 12, 2020
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.
Nearly 10 of the top coaches in college basketball have spoken and are on board with the following idea, source told me.
– Selection Sunday on as planned.
– Postpone the NCAA Tournament and continue to monitor the situation.
“We all talked, and agree on this,” once told me.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) March 12, 2020
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:
Here’s my last-ditch, cocktail napkin idea to save the NCAA Tournament:
Postpone until May 1. Maybe we still can’t do it then but more time to decide.
First two weekends played at campus arenas of higher seeds.
CBS/Turner can still show it or sell rights to other networks.
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) March 12, 2020
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.