COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN/AP) – Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said he will be issuing an order regarding “mass gatherings” due to the coronavirus that will affect NCAA Tournament games in Cleveland and Dayton.
DeWine said the order will include banning spectators from games and that he’ll be asking people to make “informed decisions.”
DeWine said those working the event will be allowed inside, including media, but he said, “the order will be that there cannot be spectators there.”
Dayton will host the NCAA’s First Four next week at Dayton Arena, and first- and second-round games will be held in Cleveland’s Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
“The order will be that there cannot be spectators there,” DeWine said. “There certainly will be people — there will be TV people, there can be radio people there, there can be sportswriters, certainly can be the media there. But we’re not going to have the large crowd.”
DeWine said he will issue an order in the next 24 to 36 hours.
NCAA President Mark Emmert released a statement Wednesday afternoon, confirming the decision, saying:
The NCAA continues to assess the impact of COVID-19 in consultation with public health officials and our COVID-19 advisory panel. Based on their advice and my discussions with the NCAA Board of Governors, I have made the decision to conduct our upcoming championship events, including the Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, with only essential staff and limited family attendance. 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. This decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and, most importantly, our student athletes. We recognize the opportunity to compete in an NCAA national championship is an experience of a lifetime for the students and their families. Today, we will move forward and conduct championships consistent with the current information and will continue to monitor and make adjustments as needed.”
DeWine applauded the Mid-American Conference for closing its tournament games to the general public this week.