NCAA women’s tournament in San Antonio to require masks despite Abbott’s ruling

Tournament starts on March 21 in San Antonio, Austin, San Marcos

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) (Ethan Miller, 2021 Getty Images)

SAN ANTONIO – The 2021 Women’s NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament will be played in San Antonio and the surrounding area, and after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to lift a statewide mandate last week, some have questioned whether fans will be required to wear masks or face coverings.

At this time, the NCAA does not plan to make any changes to its planned health and safety protocols for the women’s tournament. That includes requiring masks and social distancing for the tournament’s teams, staff, travel parties and limited fans in attendance. The NCAA issued the following statement to KSAT:

“Protecting the health and safety of participants and fans during NCAA championships remains the NCAA’s priority. In preparation for the 2021 Division I Women’s Basketball Championship, the National Invitation Tournament (NIT), as well as all other championships, the NCAA has monitored ongoing COVID-19 developments in all states since the onset of the pandemic. We will continue to work closely with local medical authorities, the NCAA COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group, and CDC guidelines to determine the appropriate health and safety protocols for our events.”

Prior to Abbott’s announcement, the NCAA released its team and fan attendance policy for upcoming championships, including the women’s tournament being hosted by the San Antonio region.

“The event capacity will include all participants, essential staff and family members of each participating team’s student-athletes and coaches and, where allowed, a reduced number of fans. All attendees must wear face coverings and be physically distanced during the event. Thorough cleaning, disinfecting and safety measures will be a priority in all venues.”

The NCAA will allow a limited capacity of up to 17% from the Sweet 16 through the Final Four, with all of those rounds being played at the Alamodome.

Those attendance policies could change based on COVID conditions in the area when the Sweet 16 round gets underway on March 27.

Attendance for the first two rounds of the tournament will be limited to team players and guests, with each member of the 34-member official team travel party allowed up to six tickets for guests.

First- and second-round play takes place March 21-24 at the Alamodome, Bill Greehey Arena on the St. Mary’s campus, the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, the University Events Center in San Marcos and the UTSA Convocation Center.

All teams and staff traveling to San Antonio must pass a series of COVID tests before they arrive in the Alamo City. They are not expected to have any contact with the general public.

The Final Four will be played on April 2 and the championship game on April 4. Selection Monday for the 64-team field will be held on March 15.

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About the Author:

RJ Marquez is co-host of KSAT News Now and reports for Good Morning San Antonio. He's been at KSAT since 2010 and covered a variety of stories and events across the San Antonio area. He also covers the Spurs for on-air and digital platforms, including his Spurs newsletter. RJ has reported stories for KSAT Explains.