How COVID-19 will impact the 2020-21 season

BY emily croft, staff wrtier
Newswire photo by Desmond Fischer

As COVID-19 continues to perpetuate in the United States, NCAA fans become uneasy about the 2020-2021 basketball season.

The Ivy League was quick to cancel all winter sports on Nov. 11, but the NCAA persists that their season will begin on Wednesday, as determined in September.

While the day before Thanksgiving may be an odd start day, NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt explains in an interview why the counsel chose the date.

“Our medical advisory group believes that that provides the most optimal time period to start the season successfully when the campuses are far less populated,” Gavitt stated.

The two-week push back from the typical start of the season will give players extra time for testing and a break from the student body.

“It’s a much more controlled environment,” Gavitt added.

With the season beginning soon, the NCAA has already had to look into the end fo the season, debating on how they can safely handle the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball tournament, also known as March Madness.

Last Monday, they officially announced they have been in contact with the state of Indiana and the city of Indianapolis on holding all of the tournament games in Indianapolis, the city that was originally scheduled to hold the Final Four in April.

“It became clear it’s not feasible to manage this complex championship in so many different states with the challenges presented by the pandemic,” Gavitt explained.

For Xavier basketball, the focus is on the Big East Conference. During Men’s Basketball Media Day, Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman was able to speak on the effects of the pandemic to what this year’s season is going to look like in comparison to the past.

“Our task has been complicated by the continuing uncertainty about the impact of the pandemic,” Ackerman stated.

She informed the media that it’s going to be hard to control everything, as some factors are just beyond their reach. It’s important to watch the updated NCAA guidelines while also paying attention to what local officials have to say.

The Big East is hopeful to have a season where disruptions are kept to a minimum.

With or without the pandemic, Coach Travis Steele and his players remain positive in their outlook on the season.

“We’re excited to get things going and get out there on the floor,” Steele said.

In his press conference on Nov. 17, Steele confirmed that Xavier, like many other programs, had to shut down for two weeks earlier this year due to a positive COVID-19 case in the program.

While the inclusion of fans for games remains undetermined at some schools, sophomore captain Zach Freemantle admits it will be a different scene than what they’re used to with a limited number of fans.

“It just means every team’s got to bring their own energy,” Freemantle said. “If a team comes not ready to play, it’s gonna show.”

The NCAA will hope to play a full 2020-2021 college basketball season with minimal interruptions.