The NCAA tournament was canceled earlier this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, something that reportedly cost the NCAA more than $375 million.
That loss a second year in a row, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said on ESPN Radio on Tuesday, isn’t something he thinks the organization can withstand.
“We’re the thing that the NCAA is most concerned about because men’s college basketball and the tournament pays for something like … it produces 98% or more of the money for the NCAA,” he said on ESPN Radio. “We need to have the tournament. We can’t have it two years in a row you don’t have the NCAA tournament.”
How to hold the tournament amid a pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic is still raging in the United States, months after it first caused a massive wave of cancelations in the sports world. There were more than 5.4 million confirmed cases in the country as of Tuesday afternoon, according to The New York Times, and more than 171,000 deaths attributed to it.
Both the Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences have already canceled fall sports due to the coronavirus, and several schools — including North Carolina, Notre Dame and Michigan State — have reversed course and transitioned to online learning after attempting to start in-person classes this week alone.
It’s still unknown when the college basketball season will actually start, or what it will look like. NCAA vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt said this week that they have “contingency plans” in place, per ESPN, to shift the start of the season if needed, and that they are looking at a possible bubble for the tournament — similar to how the NBA and WNBA have held their seasons in Florida.
“What I’m happy about is we’re doing it now,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said on ESPN Radio. “We’re not waiting two months from now saying, ‘Well, what do we do now?’
“No, we’re doing it now to try to figure it out. But we have a different path that the NBA and WNBA have shown both us that you can do this.”
There is still plenty of time to figure out how, and when, to hold the NCAA tournament.
When making those plans, Krzyzewski wants the NCAA to follow the NBA’s lead. Given their success so far inside their bubble at Walt Disney World — the league hasn’t had any positive tests for weeks and successfully started their playoffs on Monday — it only makes sense, even if that means the tournament isn’t played in March.
“Make sure you have the tournament. It doesn’t make any difference when it is,” Krzyzewski said on ESPN Radio. “Because we don’t even know when the NBA season is going to be next year. And we should look at them to see how they navigate the waters going forward. They’ve navigated them really well with the bubble.”
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