Many early season events scheduled for the end of November and beginning of December won’t be happening in an Orlando bubble, per Seth Davis of The Athletic.
Davis reports that the protocols that ESPN, which runs the tournaments through its ESPN Events arm, wanted to enforce were recommended by both the CDC and NCAA and were stricter than those that will be followed by many conferences this season.
“We’ve decided to redirect our efforts to be sure the teams have enough time to make other plans,” Clint Overby, vice president of ESPN Events, told The Athletic. “At the end of the day our bias was toward safety and making sure that what we pulled off was in the best interests of the sport. In the absence of those things, we decided we’re better off letting schools do their own thing.”
The plans broke down mainly because ESPN was trying to abide by guidelines handed down by the Centers for Disease Control and the NCAA, which are more restrictive than the protocols many conferences are planning to implement. The biggest point of contention was ESPN’s desire to stick by the guideline stating that anyone who has tested positive for coronavirus must be re-tested after that person has been clear for 90 days. Several schools balked at the idea of retesting players that soon. “The 90-day testing protocol became the key sticking point,” Overby said. “Once we laid that out there were individual schools who couldn’t agree because their conference rules are more open-ended with respect to when you test someone again who has contracted the virus.”
Over the weekend, there were concerns from schools about the viability of these tournaments.
ESPN released a brief statement announcing the events would resume next season.
— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) October 26, 2020
Among the events affected are the Wooden Legacy, Charleston Classic, preseason NIT, the Champions Classic, and the Jimmy V Classic. The latter two events, doubleheaders scheduled to feature Duke-Michigan State, Kansas-Kentucky, Baylor-Illinois, and Gonzaga-Tennessee, will potentially still be played elsewhere.
This sucks for college basketball fans, but given the various entities that all have their own standards, procedures, and protocols related to COVID-19, it’s not that much of a surprise that they all couldn’t get on the same page.