NCAA games, including postseason tournaments, will be played without fans


Samantha Barry

A vacant student section during a hockey game earlier this season.

George Barker, sports editor

Earlier this evening, NCAA President Mark Emmert released a statement detailing how the rest of the NCAA playoffs, including Norteastern’s women’s hockey’s national tournament games, men’s hockey’s Hockey East playoffs and women’s basketball’s CAA tournament games, would be played with near-empty stands.

“I have made the decision to conduct our upcoming championship events, including the Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, with only essential staff and limited family attendance,” Emmert wrote. “While I understand how disappointing this is for all fans of our sports, my decision is based on the current understanding of how COVID-19 is progressing in the United States.”

While Emmert’s statement doesn’t specifically mention hockey, Boston University women’s hockey confirmed on their Twitter account that the upcoming Frozen Four tournament would be affected. As a result, Hockey East Associate Commissioner Brian Smith tweeted that the normally paywalled streams of the playoff games will be free to watch.

Northeastern has not yet released a statement, leaving the status of this weekend’s women’s hockey home game against Princeton and baseball’s home games in question. Northeastern’s women’s hockey Twitter account tweeted a promo for tickets earlier today, meaning the door might not yet be closed on fans, giving them one more chance to watch their Huskies on the ice.

Although general fans will be barred from attending future NCAA tournament games, families of the student-athletes and credentialed media will still be granted access. For now, tournaments will continue as scheduled, even though the seats will be emptied.

“This decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and, most importantly, our 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 wrote. “Today, we will move forward and conduct championships consistent with the current information and will continue to monitor and make adjustments as needed.”

In a phone interview with the Associated Press, Emmert noted that while games are unchanged for now, the schedule could change going forward.

“This will be a continuing story,” Emmert said to AP.