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NCAA eyeing on-time start for college basketball season while still considering several alternatives

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Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) and Duke forward Javin DeLaurier reach for the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) and Duke forward Javin DeLaurier reach for the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger) by Associated Press

While college football continues to try to sort out its plans for the 2020 season, NCAA senior vice president Dan Gavitt recently said that the NCAA entered August eyeing an on-time start for the 2020-21 college hoops season.

“We’ve got a high level of confidence that as long as basketball’s being played safely anywhere in the world this season that we’ll be playing college basketball, as well,” Gavitt told Andy Katz in a video interview last week.

The 2020-21 season is scheduled to open on Nov. 10 in Chicago, with Kansas facing Kentucky and Duke taking on Michigan State at the Champions Classic.

After being away since mid-March, the Jayhawks returned to campus on Aug. 2 and have been practicing on a limited basis — four hours per week with coaches and four hours per week in the weight room per NCAA rules — during the past couple of weeks.

While Gavitt said the goal was to start on time, he added that NCAA officials and decision makers had considered several options for how the season might be structured, with the top priority being to proceed as safely as possible.

“All of the decision makers in the game have been trying to exercise patience and make sure we learn as much as we can about the uncertainty of the virus,” he said.

The Pac-12 Conference’s decision to cancel all of its sports competitions through the end of the calendar year on Tuesday certainly could create the need for major adjustments. KU’s 2020-21 schedule alone featured the potential for Kansas to face three Pac-12 opponents.

KU was slated to host USC and play at Colorado in mid-December. And the Jayhawks also could have faced UCLA in November at the Wooden Legacy tournament in Anaheim, Calif., over Thanksgiving. Those games are now off and there has been no word on whether they will be replaced.

Other programs throughout college basketball figure to be facing similar dilemmas.

The key to moving forward, Gavitt told Katz, was patience.

“We’re developing all sorts of contingencies and alternatives based on the information we’re learning on a week-by-week basis,” he said. “We need to be patient. We need to learn. We need to see how the fall sports, football in particular, start and how the NBA finishes their season.”

With things changing rapidly this week in the college football world, the NCAA may have to address its plans for the start of college basketball sooner than the “sometime in September” timeline Gavitt gave Katz.

“We know so much more today than we did a month ago,” Gavitt said. “And I think at this point, we’re probably looking at sometime in September, having to make decisions about whether we stick with the plan to start on Nov. 10 or consider other alternatives. We’ve got all sorts of plans and alternatives that we’re looking at in order to be able to do that in a safe, responsible way.”

None by NCAA March Madness

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