March Madness: NCAA announces replacement team and no-contest procedures

Guidelines for replacement teams and forfeit procedures for 2021 March Madness have been announced.

The NCAA on Thursday announced its 2021 March Madness contingency plans for teams that may be forced to withdraw from the tournament due to COVID-19 issues.

With the NCAA Tournament nearing, several adjustments have been made to accommodate the 68-team field, most notably moving the entire competition to Indiana.

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The NCAA released the following procedures:

  • Once the bracket is finalized and released, teams will not be reseeded, nor will the bracket change.
  • Reasonable efforts will be made to ensure a full field is in place before the start of the championship. No replacement teams will be introduced after the championship begins.
  • Every participating conference should have the opportunity for a minimum of one team in the championship field.
  • Beyond the goal of having at least one team from every conference, replacement teams must be among the best teams being considered for an at-large bid.

Moreover, the NCAA also announced that replacement teams could be announced up to 48 hours after the bracket release, which is scheduled to begin Sunday, March 14 at 6 p.m. ET. Replacement automatic bids will have to be determined prior to the Selection Sunday bracket release to ensure that each conference has at least one representative.

The first four teams that miss the field will be designated as replacement teams if they choose to opt in as such. They will be ranked 1-4 and would join the field as replacements in that order, if needed. A replacement team will occupy the bracket vacancy left by the team forced to withdraw.

Once the tournament begins, there will be no replacements. Additionally, teams that are unable to proceed due to COVID-19 after the tournament begins will be forced into a no-contest rule and their opponents will advance to the next round.

Full NCAA tournament replacement policy PDF

March Madness timeline

  • Deadline for conferences to determine AQ policy: Friday, Feb. 26
  • Deadline for potential at-large teams to notify NCAA of medical availability: Saturday, March 13 — 11 p.m. local
  • Final conference tournament championships: Sunday, March 14
  • March Madness bracket release: Sunday, March 14 — 6 p.m. ET
  • Deadline to replace tournament team unable to compete: Tuesday, March 16 — 6 p.m. ET
Eli Boettger
Eli Boettger

Heat Check CBB founder, editor