LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The NCAA will hold the entirety of the 2021 NCAA men’s basketball tournament in Indianapolis and the surrounding area.
The organization, which made the announcement Monday morning, had been in talks with its headquarters city since first announcing it would go to a single site for its signature event in mid-November.
The majority of the tournament’s 67 games will take place in Indianapolis. Selection Sunday is still scheduled for March 14, and plans remain to have the Final Four on April 3 and 5, with exact preliminary-round dates to be determined.
No decision has been made on whether fans will be able to attend. The NCAA will allow a limited number of family members of each participating team’s players and coaches to attend their team’s games.
“This is a historic moment for NCAA members and the state of Indiana,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said. “We have worked tirelessly to reimagine a tournament structure that maintains our unique championship opportunity for college athletes. The reality of today’s announcement was possible thanks to the tremendous leadership of our membership, local authorities and staff.”
The NCAA is partnering with a local health provider to administer COVID-19 testing within the controlled environment for players, coaching staffs, administrators and officials. The Marion County Health Department has approved medical protocols shared by the NCAA and will continue collaborating with the NCAA leading up to and during the championship.
The tournament will be hosted by Ball State, Butler, the Horizon League, Indiana, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and Purdue, which are lending their facilities and staffs to assist with tournament operations. The Indiana Convention Center will be used as a practice facility, with multiple courts set up inside the venue. Marriott properties, an official NCAA corporate partner, will house most of the tournament teams. The properties are connected to the convention center via skywalks and within a controlled environment. All teams will be housed on dedicated hotel floors, with physically distanced meeting and dining rooms, as well as secure transportation to and from competition venues.
Games will be played on two courts inside Lucas Oil Stadium, as well as Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Mackey Arena in West Lafayette and Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington. Only one game at a time will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium.
CBS Sports and Turner Sports will continue to distribute all 67 games of the tournament across TBS, CBS, TNT, truTV and their digital platforms.
“The 2021 version of March Madness will be one to remember, if for no other reason than the uniqueness of the event,” NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt said. “With the direction of the Men’s Basketball Committee, we are making the most of the circumstances the global pandemic has presented. We’re fortunate to have neighbors and partners in Indianapolis and surrounding communities who not only love the game of basketball as much as anyone else in the country but have a storied history when it comes to staging major sporting events.
“This is going to be complicated and difficult; there’s no question about that. We appreciate the collaboration among the Men’s Basketball Committee and staff, our hosts and local organizers, the staffs at each practice and competition venue, and our broadcast and corporate partners. We will all pull together and stage a terrific national championship.”
The decision knocks Lexington out of a chance to host first- and second-round games this year at Rupp Arena in March. But the chairman of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee, Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart, said it was the best move in a difficult situation.
“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," Barnhart said. "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.”
The specifics of the tournament sites in Indianapolis continue to be worked out.
“It is a logistical challenge to have essentially 68 teams come to Indianapolis and play in venues about the city,” Mayor Joe Hogsett said. “The city is all in.”
The NCAA also expects to move its women’s tournament to a single site, likely San Antonio. No official announcement has been made.
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