The COVID-19 pandemic is raging through the United States. Daily case counts are setting records at an almost daily pace. Experts expect the spread to get even worse as we enter the winter. They also caution that the virus can spread even easier indoors.
Meanwhile, the college basketball season is schedule to start in less than two weeks.
Judging from the progression of the college football season, with several games being canceled each week, it’s hard to say if the NCAA will allow that first paragraph to interfere with the second.
Among those who believe the NCAA should make that decision is Rick Pitino, now head coach at Iona after a two-season stopover in Greece. The Hall of Famer called for delaying the season in a tweet on Saturday morning, saying teams should play a delayed conference schedule with a “May Madness” in lieu of March:
Save the Season. Move the start back. Play league schedule and have May Madness. Spiking and protocols make it impossible to play right now.
— Rick Pitino (@RealPitino) November 14, 2020
Pitino’s Iona program is currently under an NCAA-mandated 14-day pause after a member of the program tested positive for COVID-19.
The Gaels aren’t alone in having to do so, as Minnesota, Seton Hall, Stetson and Cal are among the programs that have had to temporarily shut down after a positive test. Michigan State’s Tom Izzo is among the bigger names in sports to test positive this month.
College basketball presents a particularly worrisome structure for playing through a coronavirus pandemic, between its traditional winter schedule, indoor playing arenas, decentralized conferences with shifting schedules and college campus settings. Put all that in a country that some worry is about to experience an exponential spread of the virus, and you might have a problem.
Waiting until later in the calendar to start the season could help avoid the worst of the winter, though concerns are obviously going to remain as long the pandemic does as well.
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