Mar 12, 2020 - Sports

NCAA cancels March Madness tournament due to coronavirus

Photo: Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

The NCAA announced Thursday that it will cancel its annual men's and women's Division I basketball tournaments, set to begin with Selection Sunday on March 15, due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Why it matters: March Madness is a cultural phenomenon and one of the biggest sporting events in America. The NCAA was initially planning to play games without fans, but faced pressure to cancel after top-ranked teams Duke and University of Kansas suspended all athletic activities.

What they're saying:

"Today, NCAA President Mark Emmert and the Board of Governors canceled the Division I men’s and women’s 2020 basketball tournaments, as well as all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships. This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities."

The big picture: A string of major sports cancellations began Wednesday night with the NBA, which announced it would suspend its season indefinitely after a player on the Utah Jazz tested positive for the coronavirus. The NHL and MLS suspended their seasons on Thursday, and the MLB postponed spring training games.

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Kentucky Derby postponed for first time in 75 years due to coronavirus crisis

The 2019 Kentucky Derby. Photo: Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

More sports leagues in the U.S. and around the world are suspending their seasons or limiting fan attendance due to the coronavirus outbreak, after the NBA became the first major U.S. sports league to announce it would postpone its season on Wednesday.

Driving the news: The Kentucky Derby will be postponed from May 2 to Sept. 5, marking the first time in 75 years that the race will not be held on the first Saturday of May, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Mar 17, 2020 - Sports

A look back at the month that erased sports

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Remember when Spike Lee and the Knicks were feuding over his use of the employee entrance? That was in March.

Flashback: We've all seen the countless memes about the unending misery formerly known as March 2020. Here's a snapshot of how the sports world made it through the longest month ever.

Go deeperArrowApr 1, 2020 - Sports

The ripple effects of March Sadness

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The NCAA men's basketball tournament makes up more than 75% of the organization's annual revenue, so ever since March Madness was canceled, college administrators have been bracing for an economic gut punch.

Driving the news: The NCAA delivered the blow yesterday, announcing that it will distribute just $225 million to Division I conferences and schools for 2020 — less than half of the $600 million that had originally been budgeted.

Go deeperArrowMar 27, 2020 - Sports