NCAA president Mark Emmert was prepared to move forward with both the men's and women's college basketball tournaments in spite of the coronavirus pandemic until Rudy Gobert tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.
The original contingency plan had been to play the tournaments without fans, and possibly at smaller venues.
"We (were) completely convinced at 4 p.m. on Wednesday that we could conduct the championships without fans by controlling the sites effectively," Emmert told Mark Schlabach of ESPN. "We thought we could control the perimeters and control the environment, and, as best as possible, travel, because it's mostly charter travel and buses one way or another. We felt really confident about it. We were feeling really, really good."
All that changed once Gobert, a Utah Jazz center, tested positive for the virus moments before a game on Wednesday night. The NBA suspended its season within minutes of the diagnosis, and the NCAA - along with nearly every other North American sports league - quickly followed. Gobert's test result was the "exclamation point" that led the NCAA to cancel both tournaments outright, Emmert said.
The NCAA also canceled all events through to June, including the College World Series. Most collegiate conferences also ended their individual tournaments and seasons.
One other reason the NCAA elected to pull the plug on all athletics was because of the issues around testing all of its athletes and coaches for COVID-19. Emmert was concerned about using testing kits on individuals who were otherwise healthy at the expense of others in the public who needed the tests.
"You're talking about a very limited resource - these test kits," Emmert said. "I'm not a public health official, but you've got this very scarce resource right now. Whether it should be scarce or not is another question, but it is scarce.
"And here you're talking about otherwise really, really healthy people, and should you take that scarce resource and test otherwise (healthy) 19-year-olds? Some of the public health officials were saying that's not a best use of this resource, and we were not going to have access to what we thought we needed. That was just one data point."