By Gillian R. Brassil
The New York Times
The NCAA will consolidate its usually sprawling men’s college basketball tournament to a single city in 2021 instead of holding the games at 13 sites across the United States, in hopes of limiting travel during the pandemic.
The NCAA announced Monday it was in preliminary talks with local and state government officials to have Indianapolis host the 68-team Division I men’s tournament.
The men’s basketball committee that oversees the tournament determined that a singular location would be more conducive to the “safety and well-being” of the event.
The 2020 men's and women’s tournaments were among the first major sporting events in the United States to be canceled as the coronavirus spread in March.
The committee said that while limiting travel, it was looking for a location that could offer enough courts as well as housing and medical resources. The Final Four was already scheduled for April 3 and 5 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, where the NCAA has its headquarters.
The committee is not conversing with representatives from other cities, said David Worlock, the NCAA's press officer, but he noted that could change. Officials are not planning to hold the entire tournament to a single, highly restricted site.
“We can’t operate in a bubble like, for example, the NBA did this year with its postseason, though we will have similar protocols in place to protect the health and safety of those involved,” he said.
Discussions concerning the Division I women’s basketball tournament are still ongoing, said Lynn Holzman, the NCAA’s vice president for women’s basketball. That tournament generally uses more sites than the men’s tournament, with 16 teams hosting first- and second-round games that feed into regional sites and eventually the Final Four, which is scheduled for April 2 and -4 in San Antonio.
Indiana’s health department has reported an 11.7% positivity rate for virus tests over the last seven days. Daily cases have doubled in the state in the last 14 days compared with the daily average for the prior two weeks, and the state has had 87.6 cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days.