The NCAA has announced contingency plans in the event teams are forced to withdraw from the national men’s or women’s tournaments because of COVID-19 issues.
There are actually two separate policies — one for teams that have to withdraw following their selection, and one for teams that withdraw once the Big Dance is already under way.
In these situations, the NCAA will have “replacement teams” on the ready, indicating as much in the following tenants on its website:
- Once the bracket is finalized and released, teams will not be reseeded, nor will the bracket change.
- Reasonable efforts will be made to ensure a full field is in place before the start of the championship. No replacement teams will be introduced after the championship begins.
- Every participating conference should have the opportunity for a minimum of one team in the championship field.
- Beyond the goal of having at least one team from every conference, replacement teams must be among the best teams being considered for an at-large bid.
“There are separate policies for when a team is forced to withdraw: one for before the announcement of the championship field and one for after the release of the bracket,” per the NCAA. “Replacement teams will only be introduced into the championship within 48 hours after the announcement of the field, and at no time thereafter.”
The entire men’s tournament will be held in Indiana this season, with the Final Four slated for Indianapolis. San Antonio will host the women’s Final Four.