NCAA Tournament will have limited fan attendance
Here's what to know about the San Antonio setup—and how to watch on TV
Welcome to The Next: A basketball newsroom brought to you by The IX. 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage, written, edited, and photographed by our young, diverse staff, dedicated to breaking news, analysis, historical deep dives, and projections about the game we love.
Subscribe to make sure this vital work, creating a pipeline of young, diverse media professionals to write, edit and photograph the great game, continues and grows. Paid subscriptions include some exclusive content, but the reason for subscriptions is a simple one: making sure our writers and editors creating 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage get paid to do it.
Women’s basketball fans will be able to attend the 2021 NCAA Division I Championship, but here’s what you need to know before you hop on a plane to San Antonio.
Working with local health authorities, the NCAA decided it will allow a limited number of fans to attend the tournament—up to 17 percent capacity from the Sweet Sixteen through the Women’s Final Four. Masks and physical distancing will be required.
“We are looking forward to the return of the championship as well as limited fan attendance in what will be a unique and unforgettable event,” said Lynn Holzman, vice president of women’s basketball at the NCAA. “The NCAA has and will continue to work in conjunction with state and local health authorities to ensure the health and safety of all student-athletes, staff and fans for this year’s championship, but we are excited that fans will again be part of the 2021 championship.”
Attendance will be limited to just team players and guests for first- and second-round play from March 21-24. Each member of the official 34-member team travel party will be allowed up to six tickets for guests.
After that, the Sweet Sixteen through the Final Four will take place at the Alamodome, where the 17 percent allowed capacity includes all participants, family members, essential staff and a reduced number of fans.
We all know the drill by now: everyone at the tournament will be expected to follow the established health and safety protocols. Yes, that means mask-wearing and social distancing where possible. Cleaning and disinfecting will also be a priority at all the venues.
The NCAA also provided an in-depth look at the health and safety measures it will follow throughout the tournament. More information on public ticket sales will be available after March 1.
If you’re not comfortable traveling across state lines or attending large sporting events during a global pandemic, you’ll be able to catch every game of the tournament on television. The NCAA announced all six rounds and 63 games of the championship will have coverage on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU. ABC is also set to carry at least six tournament games—the first time since the 1995 championship (shown on CBS) that portions of the tournament will be shown on a broadcast network.
ESPN vice president of women’s sports programming and acquisitions Carol Stiff said that her network is committed to and excited about broader women’s basketball coverage:
“ESPN’s coverage of women’s basketball has always been driven by our passion for the sport, its players and its coaches. We’re proud to continue our commitment with the addition of ABC to our network lineup for this year’s NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship. As home to the championship for the past 26 years, and after the cancellation of last year’s women’s tournament, we can’t wait to bring the best of women’s college basketball to even more viewers as the sport crowns a new champion.”
When and where you can catch the action
All times listed are Eastern Standard Time.
Selection Show: Monday, March 15 (7 p.m., 8 p.m.) - ESPN, ESPNU
First Round: Sunday, March 21 (coverage starts at noon) - ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU
First Round: Monday, March 22 (coverage starts at noon) - ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU
Second Round: Tuesday, March 23 (coverage starts at 3 p.m.) - ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU
Second Round: Wednesday, March 24 (coverage starts at 1 p.m.) - ESPN2, ESPNU
Sweet 16: Saturday, March 27 (1 p.m., 3 p.m., 6 p.m., 8 p.m.) - ABC, ESPN2
Sweet 16: Sunday, March 28 (1 p.m., 3 p.m., 7 p.m., 9 p.m.) - ABC, ESPN
Elite Eight: Monday, March 29 (7 p.m., 9 p.m.) - ESPN
Elite Eight: Tuesday, March 30 (7 p.m., 9 p.m.) - ESPN
Final Four (National Semifinals): Friday, April 2 (6 p.m., 9:30 p.m.) - ESPN
National Championship Game: Sunday, April 4 (6 p.m.) - ESPN