With kickoff set for late August, college football is currently in the crosshairs as the sports world tries to figure out how to move forward in the COVID-19 world. The upcoming college basketball season isn't quite as pressing, but a time will come where decisions have to be made.
College basketball may be the major sport most impacted so far. The 2020 NCAA Tournament was outright canceled, along with most major conference tournaments. The decision was made just minutes before some games in leagues like the ACC were set to tip off. The Big East did so at halftime of a game at Madison Square Garden.
Big East commissioner Val Ackerman spoke to the media today about issues facing the sport at the center of her league. As most officials have said, she says sports will not be played unless students are on campus. A number of major schools have announced their plans to reopen for the fall, but obviously it is all based on where things stand with the spread of the coronavirus.
While college football may need to make a call by mid-summer, basketball will have more time. Teams usually begin exhibitions in late October/early November, and the regular season comes in mid-November. Ackerman says that Sept. 1 is around when a decision will have to be made for the sport to be played as expected.
The decision for college basketball won't be made in a bubble though, even for conferences without football like the Big East. Ackerman went on to acknowledge that a "delay" in the college football season would start a "domino effect" for college basketball, according to Adam Zagoria.
She also acknowledge the possibility that not every school will be ready to play by then. Some football leagues, most notably the SEC, have been at the center of discussions about whether leagues could play without some member schools. Ackerman pointed to the six-team minimum for official conferences, saying it is a possibility that not all 11 Big East members could return for this year.
Hopefully college basketball returns in normal form, and that we have a doubly special Big Dance next March, after missing out this year. Right now, it is too early to call.