Nati Harnik/Associated Press
The NCAA is in talks with the state of Indiana to host the entire 2021 NCAA men’s basketball tournament in the Indianapolis metro area.
While no formal agreement is in place, the NCAA has decided to relocate the event from the original 13 preliminary-round sites. It’s likely the tournament will take place in some form of a bubble because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mitch Barnhart, chair of the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee and University of Kentucky athletics director, said in a statement:
“My committee colleagues and I did not come lightly to the difficult decision to relocate the preliminary rounds of the 2021 tournament, as we understand the disappointment 13 communities will feel to miss out on being part of March Madness next year. With the University of Kentucky slated to host first- and second-round games in March, this is something that directly impacts our school and community, so we certainly share in their regret. The committee and staff deeply appreciate the efforts of all the host institutions and conferences, and we look forward to bringing the tournament back to the impacted sites in future years.”
Indianapolis is scheduled to host the men’s Final Four from April 3 to April 5, 2021. The NCAA’s offices are also located in Indianapolis.
Dan Gavitt of the NCAA also noted that there are “other cities” on a list if the organization is not able to come to an agreement with Indianapolis, per Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star.
The NCAA determined hosting a tournament at 13 sites across the country would not be feasible. By holding the event in one city, the NCAA may be able to pull it off with less risk of an outbreak.
NCAA President Mark Emmert added:
“The committee and staff have thoughtfully monitored the pandemic to develop potential contingency plans. The Board of Governors’ and my top priorities are to protect the health and well-being of college athletes while also maintaining their opportunity to compete at the highest level. These principles have guided the decision-making process as we continue to assess how to have a fair and safe championship experience.”
The NCAA canceled its men’s basketball tournament for the first time in history in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.