HIlton Coliseum, home of the Iowa State Cyclones, sits empty in Ames, Iowa (April 4, 2015)

HIlton Coliseum, home of the Iowa State Cyclones, sits empty in Ames, Iowa (April 4, 2015)

UPDATE: 4:35 P.M. The NCAA has decided to cancel the Division 1 men's and women basketball tournament as a growing number of sporting leagues and entertainment events shutter in order to help prevent further spread of coronavirus in the U.S.

Atlanta was set to host the Final Four of the men's tournament next month. 

Read the full statement below:

Today, NCAA President Mark Emmert and the Board of Governors canceled the Division I men’s and women’s 2020 basketball tournaments, as well as all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships. This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities.

The NCAA joins MLB, MLS, Nascar, NBA, and many other organizations in suspending games as the coronavirus continues to spread in the U.S.


ORIGINAL STORY: Fans are expressing frustration with the National Collegiate Athletic Association after the organization decided against allowing fans to attend games during March Madness in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

After Wednesday's decision, backlash from fans was swift and loud, including from people who had long-standing plans to attend the Final Four in Atlanta. 

Jake Dulhaime is a Final Four ticket holder in Boston who said he's angry with how the NCAA handled the news and how the organization treated  fans who made big investments to attend the games. 

"This was never about safety, this was about money," Dulhaime told GPB News. "There is $770 million on the line for the NCAA, and if they're going to tell the little guy to go screw, they're going to do that to protect their investment. As the 'little guy', I'm going to express my outrage until that changes."

Dulhaime argues that if the NCAA is primarly concerned about safety, then all the upcoming games should be cancelled.

"You can't tell me as a fan that I am no less of a risk (to spread coronavirus) than players sweating on each other all over the court."

On Wednesday, the NBA indefinitely suspended its season after a player on the Utah Jazz tested positive for the coronavirus. 

Dulhaime says although the NCAA is offering refunds for ticket holders, a $20 handling fee is not being refunded. And for fans who already booked hotel rooms and plane tickets, the cancellation costs can start to add up.

More than 100,000 fans were expected to travel to Atlanta for the Final Four at Mercedes Benz Stadium. Now, the NCAA is looking at smaller venues to host the mostly empty games.

Local hotels, vendors, and other businesses also stand to miss out on a multi-million dollar impact that the games would have brought to the metro area. 

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"I feel for the city of Atlanta and all the people at the Final Four host committee," said Dulhaime. "They were trying to attract a mega event that would impact the city and the city's financial well-being."

"Now, the NCAA is just going to come in and collect all the TV money and screw (everyone) over. If you really cared, you would cancel the event."

The 68-team field will be announced on Selection Sunday this weekend, with games starting on March 17.