INDIANAPOLIS – The NCAA, in conjunction with the Marion County Public Health Department, has formalized the COVID-19 health and safety protocols to be used during the 2021 Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, including all rounds and the Final Four.
The protocols outline testing, physical distancing and contact tracing requirements before teams arrive and throughout their stay in the tournament.
Earlier this week, Indiana was announced as the home of the entire tournament.
“Our emphasis is on the safety and well-being of everyone participating in the event,” said NCAA Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brian Hainline. “By working with local health officials to develop protocols and administer COVID-19 testing, we are confident we will provide a safe environment for student-athletes, coaches, administrators and officials.”
All Tier 1 travel party participants will be required to undergo and document seven consecutive negative COVID-19 tests prior to arrival into Indianapolis. The NCAA will work with IU Health to provide health related support including the administration of daily PCR tests for Tier 1 individuals upon arrival and throughout the tournament. Tier 1 participants include student-athletes, coaches, athletic trainers, physical therapists, medical staff, equipment staff and officials.
The NCAA will arrange charter bus and/or air travel for all Tier 1 participants. All teams participating will be housed in Marion County hotels for the duration of their active participation in the tournament. Meals will either be in-room or in physically distanced meal rooms with assigned seating.
Except during practice or competition time on court, all Tier 1 participants will observe physical distancing and universal masking at all times. Exceptions are while alone in the hotel room or during pre-arranged and approved mealtime.
All Tier 1 participants will wear KINEXON contact tracing devices throughout the tournament, including practices and games. These devices, coupled with video analysis, provide data that allows total time measurement of those who are within 6 feet of a newly infected individual with COVID-19. The data will be utilized to assist with contact tracing and the need to quarantine participants. If close contact time with another individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 is less than 15 minutes over 24 hours, then quarantine may not be required.
COVID-19 testing and contact tracing will not be required for asymptomatic Tier 1 individuals who are at least two weeks post-infection and within 90 days of the first known date of infection, or participants who are at least two weeks post their second COVID-19 vaccine (or singular COVID-19 vaccine for FDA approved vaccines that require one dose only). These groups will still be required to wear masks and physically distance.
The protocols also address game attendance. Up to six family members per Tier 1 participant (up to 420 family members total) will be allowed in each venue per game. The family members will be prohibited from interacting in person with any of the Tier 1 participants during the entire tournament. They will be seated in physically distanced family clusters. The final attendance policy will be announced after Feb. 1.