By Weston Blasi
The NCAA announced Monday that the 2021 men’s basketball tournament will be played entirely in Indiana.
Games will be played on two courts inside Lucas Oil Stadium as well as at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, both in Indianapolis; Hinkle Fieldhouse at Butler University, also in Indianapolis; Indiana Farmers Coliseum at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis; Mackey Arena at Purdue University in West Lafayette; and Assembly Hall at Indiana University in Bloomington. Only one game at a time will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“This is a historic moment for NCAA members and the state of Indiana,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement . “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.”
Championship weekend is still scheduled for April 3 and April 5. Preliminary-round dates have not yet been determined.
The NCAA says it will partner with a local health provider to administer COVID-19 testing for players, coaches, school administrators and officials. There was no mention of administering any vaccines to participants in the NCAA’s public comments on the tournament.
“This is going to be complicated and difficult; there’s no question about that,” said Dan Gavitt, the NCAA’s senior vice president of basketball. “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.”
Both the men’s and women’s college basketball tournaments were canceled in 2020, causing a massive financial loss for the NCAA and subsequently its member schools.
The NCAA was set to distribute a total of $600 million to over 1,200 schools across all divisions before last year’s cancellations, but ended up distributing $225 million instead.
The women’s basketball tournament’s future is still murky as it wasn’t mentioned in the NCAA’s most recent public comments.
Details on the traveling and lodging accommodations of the 67 teams participating in the tournaments are expected soon, but the NCAA has not laid out plans to construct a strict “bubble” system like the National Basketball Association did for its postseason in 2020.
The NCAA says fans may be in attendance but the decision has not yet been made. The NCAA says it will promote a “Mask Madness” initiative during tournament time, and will donate thousands of masks to the state of Indiana leading up to the tournament.