The UCLA women’s basketball team, ranked No. 10 in the nation, could open the NCAA tournament without any fans.
The Bruins might have to play inside an empty Pauley Pavilion next week after UCLA announced Tuesday that all home athletics events would be limited to essential personnel until April 10, or until further notice, as part of measures intended to stop the spread of coronavirus.
The school defined essential personnel as athletes, coaches, team trainers and medical personnel in addition to game officials, operational and administrative staff and credentialed media. Fans who have pre-purchased tickets are advised to contact UCLA’s central ticket office for refunds.
The Bruins (26-5) are likely to be one of 16 women’s teams awarded as hosts for first- and second-round NCAA tournament games based on their strong play this season.
Although UCLA has not barred its teams from traveling and competing, the school said, athletes who do not feel comfortable doing so will be excused from participation.
UCLA also announced Tuesday that it was suspending in-person classes whenever possible and transitioning to online platforms through April 10, the end of the second week of spring quarter classes, even though there have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus among UCLA students or faculty.
The school is offering winter quarter final exams remotely while keeping university housing open through spring break and beyond for those who need it. Nonessential gatherings of more than 100 people on campus also have been canceled.
Other UCLA athletics events that will be played without fans include the next seven baseball games, beginning with a three-game series against Oregon on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Jackie Robinson Stadium, and a women’s gymnastics meet against Bridgeport on Saturday.