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College Basketball

The Future of College Basketball in 2020-21

College Basketball season

With three months remaining until the scheduled start of the 2020 college basketball season, major decisions have yet to be made.

As of now, only 17 of Division I’s 357 programs have released a schedule. For everyone else, however, plans remain uncertain.

According to a statement by Dan Gavitt, senior vice president of basketball, The NCAA is prepared to shift the Nov. 10 start date for college basketball if necessary. The vice president explained that “contingency” plans have developed. These plans will allow the NCAA to move the start date for practices and games if necessary, he stated.

“In the coming weeks, the NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Oversight Committees will take the lead with me in a collaborative process of finalizing any recommendations for consideration by the NCAA Division I Council for the start of the college basketball season,” Gavitt said. “By mid-September, we will provide direction about whether the season and practice start on time or a short-term delay is necessitated by the ongoing pandemic.”

Bubble Play

Image courtesy of CNBC

The debate surrounding plans for fall sports has picked up in recent weeks, with speculation on conference only schedules. Bubble play in Orlando has come into consideration. And why not? Many leagues, such as the NBA, WNBA, NHL and MLS, have seen success in the bubble environment. Just last week, the NBA announced zero players tested positive for COVID-19 for the fifth straight week.

“Following the success of the NBA restart, Orlando has emerged as a prime location to play multiple early-season college basketball tournaments in a bubble typesetting,” Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports tweeted Wednesday evening.

“Many college basketball coaches and administrators believe that current non-conference schedules will dissolve due to COVID-19 and teams will look to play regionalized games in pods or bubbles to fulfill any hope of non-conference basketball before league play.”

According to ESPN, Gavitt and the NCAA have taken in this concept with open arms. Gavitt said officials have talked about the particulars of a bubble. This includes testing protocols, costs and quarantine plans in case of positive tests.

“It’s something we’ve been talking about and studying for some time since the NBA shared their plan,” Gavitt said. “We’ve had a chance to see its execution. We know that it works.”

Coaches opinions

Coaches have also weighed in their opinions on the potential college basketball bubble. On Tuesday, Kentucky head coach, John Calipari, promoted the idea on ESPN Radio’s The Intersection.

“Instead of it being weeks on weeks long, maybe it’s short,” he said. “You lose, you’re out of the bubble. You go home.”

Also appearing on ESPN Radio, Duke head coach, Mike Krzyzewski, conveyed to listeners that the NCAA can not afford to lose another March Madness tournament.

“We’re the thing that the NCAA is most concerned about because men’s college basketball and the tournament pays for something like … it produces 98 percent or more of the money for the NCAA,” he said. “We need to have the tournament. We can’t have it where two years in a row you don’t have the NCAA tournament.”

The cancellation of last season’s men’s and women’s postseason tournaments reportedly cost the NCAA more than $375 million.

The future

A dire and difficult road steadies ahead, as college basketball receives more pressure to reopen while having to find ways of keeping the well-being of players and staff intact. 

“We recognize that we are living and operating in an uncertain time, and it is likely that mid-September will be just the first milestone for many important decisions pertaining to the regular season and the NCAA basketball championships,” Dan Gavitt finished in his statement. “While circumstances may warrant flexibility resulting in a different and perhaps imperfect season, the ultimate goal is to safely provide student-athletes and teams with a great college basketball experience.”


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