College basketball is still three months away from tipping off.
But as fall sports have been canceled or postponed by conferences across the nation due to the coronavirus pandemic, Dan Gavitt, the NCAA’s senior vice president of basketball, said the 2020-21 college hoops season is still slated to begin on Nov. 10.
“We are planning on starting the season, right now, on schedule,” Gavitt said in a brief interview posted on the NCAA March Madness Twitter account on Saturday. “We have plans across the country through our schools and conferences to bring students back to campus safely this month in August and in early September. Many players have been on campus for weeks now training on campus in a very safe way.
“We've got a high level of confidence that as long as basketball is being played safely anywhere in the world this season that we'll be playing NCAA college basketball.”
Gavitt said decisions to stick with the scheduled start date or “consider other alternatives” won’t need to be made until September. He added the NCAA has been having ongoing conversations and developing contingencies in case adjustments need to be made.
Of course, college basketball has the benefit of time on its side. It also has the advantage of seeing how other college sports, particularly football, and professional leagues like the NBA, MLB and NHL navigate the pandemic.
"All of the decision-makers in the game have been trying to exercise patience,” Gavitt said. “We’re making sure we learn as much as we can about the uncertainty around the virus and making sure that we make the best-informed decisions for the health and safety of the players, coaches and everyone around the game.
“We're doing that. We know so much more today than we did a month ago.”
Gavitt added the NCAA has “all sorts of plans” it’s looking at in order to host its annual men’s and women’s postseason basketball tournaments in “a safe and responsible way.”
Last month, Gavitt expressed optimism and confidence that the NCAA Tournament will run as scheduled in 2021 after the annual event was called off last season due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Of course, we need the help of everybody that loves sports across the country to wear a mask, social distance, have good hygiene and stop the spread of this terrible disease,” Gavitt said. “I think we're hopeful that's going to happen nationwide and then regionally we'll be able to address the things we need to in a safe way to provide this great experience that players across the country want to have this year.”