The NCAA is relocating the 13 preliminary round sites for next year's national tournament and has begun talks with the state of Indiana and city of Indianapolis to potentially host the entire March Madness tourney, the Division I Men's Basketball Committee announced Monday.
The committee concluded that holding the 68-team event at various locations across the country would be "very difficult" amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium has previously hosted the Final Four and was already chosen to hold the 2021 edition.
"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,” committee chair Mitch Barnhart said in a statement.
COVID-19 is already affecting the college basketball landscape ahead of the Nov. 25 start date. Numerous programs have shut down all basketball-related activities due to positive test results. Hall of Fame head coaches Tom Izzo and Jim Boeheim are currently in isolation after contracting the virus.
"The committee and staff have thoughtfully monitored the pandemic to develop potential contingency plans," said NCAA president Mark Emmert. "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."