KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Any West Virginia fans who had planned to see the Mountaineers play in this year’s postseason will have to do so from the comfort of their own homes.
NCAA president Mark Emmert announced on Wednesday that this year’s men’s and women’s basketball tournaments will go on as scheduled, but that the only fans in arenas will be family members of the teams involved.
The measures are being taken due to the worldwide spread of the coronavirus strain COVID-19, which is not yet curable.
“While I understand how disappointing this is for fans of all our sports, my decision is based on the current understanding of how COVID-19 is progressing,” Emmert wrote.
— Inside the NCAA (@InsidetheNCAA) March 11, 2020
He also noted that the NCAA will “continue to monitor and make adjustments as needed.” Those adjustments may include moving regional and Final Four games into smaller arenas with no need to play in domed football stadiums in order to accommodate additional fans.
Hours later, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby announced that similar steps will be taken at this year’s Big 12 tournament.
“We will be implementing limited access beginning with [Thursday’s] games,” Bowlsby said. “What that means is our teams will have access to 125 tickets that will be ticketed game-by-game. We will clear the venue after each game. Our athletic directors decided the tickets would go to guests of student-athletes and staff members, and we do not plan to have pep bands, cheerleaders or dance teams as part of the group that’s in.”
Beginning with tomorrow's tournament games, we will be implementing limited access. Teams will have access to 125 tickets for staff and guests of student-athletes.
For the full announcement and more details ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/8W7h565eGn
— Big 12 Conference (@Big12Conference) March 11, 2020
Fans will not be allowed to attend the event following Wednesday night’s first-round games, which were already getting underway by the time the league made its announcement.
WVU athletic director Shane Lyons spoke out in support of the decision, and said West Virginia fans will be able to contact the WVU ticket office regarding refunds for their tickets.
“I understand and support Commissioner Bob Bowlsby’s decision to go to a limited access protocol for the 2020 Big 12 men’s and women’s basketball championships,” Lyons said in an official release. “Based on the recommendation of medical professionals, it is a necessary decision to help curb the threat of spreading the COVID-19.
“We will announce information on refunds for the fans who purchased all-session tickets through the Mountaineer Ticket Office in the coming days.”
West Virginia opens the Big 12 men’s tournament against Oklahoma on Thursday night, while the West Virginia women begin their tournament against Texas on Friday night.