Here we are, in mid-August, wondering not about who will start for St. John’s, how Mike Anderson will build on a surprise finish with the Johnnies, or how tough the schedule is.
We are talking about whether and when we will see men’s and women’s basketball again. Whether 2020-21 will be an asterisk or a dashed line.
The Big East has already announced that fall competition will not include non-conference play. For those sports — men’s and women’s soccer, cross-country and volleyball — hope seems fairly dim for playing in the fall at all.
The league said that “no decision is being made at this time regarding Big East fall sports conference competition and championships,” adding that decisions will be made by monitoring COVID-19 conditions around the country and following NCAA guidelines.
Given the revenue hit around the country and restrictions on fans coming in, long-term hope for those sports is a worry.
On the football side, the “Power 5” conferences have started discussing cancelling fall football, with the Big Ten already pulling the cord on the curtain. The plan is to play in the spring, perhaps.
“Perhaps” should be concerning for college basketball. Already, the NCAA is saying that the season will start on time (November 10th), but give quarantine rules and community spread, it’s hard to imagine how that is going to happen. UConn’s women’s basketball coach, Geno Auriemma, thinks there will be a long wait.
If games start again, it is also hard to imagine that games will happen smoothly and as scheduled. Consider the most recent example of protocol/ curfew breaking from the professional ranks, where in baseball, Cleveland pitchers Zach Plesac and Mike Clevinger went out in Chicago... and Clevinger lied about it and flew home with the team.
Even for the young who feel they are invulnerable, there is an issue of trust here.
There is also an issue of money.
In the pros, there is money to send players home separately, money to keep the players fairly quarantined from other people and keep them fed and entertained. There is also a monetary incentive to follow the rules. How will this work in a Division I that spans from the well-funded Kentucky program to the far-less-well-funded Saint Peter’s (for example)?
Can the Big East and the NCAA solve those problems and get the players back on the court?