The NCAA is closing events to fans including the upcoming men’s and women’s Division I basketball tournament games over concerns about the coronavirus.
March Madness is one of the organization’s most profitable sporting events bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
In a statement, President Mark Emmert said the decision comes after careful thought on what would be best for the public, including fans, coaches and 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,” Emmert said.
Essential staff and limited family will still be able to attend.
The move comes after the Ivy League canceled its tournaments and other conferences implemented similar moves to ban fans from games.
Purdue University professor Josh Boyd says with ticket refunds and less ad revenue, it’s going to be a financial hit for the organization.
“Obviously they’ll have their sponsorship deals for the TV contract,” says Boyd. “But anything, and I don’t know exactly how they have this arranged, but any deals in the arena, ads shown in the arena, or branding around the arena that might be there just for the tournament obviously they won’t get the revenue from that.”
Wednesday night, the Big Ten also announced fans would no longer be able to attend men’s basketball conference games in Indianapolis the rest of the tournament.
This story has been updated.
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