Rick Pitino went directly to the masses on Wednesday with an idea he has for the NCAA in regards to the 2020-21 college basketball season. The former Kentucky and Louisville coach, who is entering his first season at Iona, suggested on Twitter that the season start in January and include only league games.
"Suggestion to the NCAA, push the start of the season back to January and only play league games," Pitino wrote. "Buy some more time for a vaccine and to get things under control. Although I can't wait to be back on the sidelines, the health of my players and staff is what's really important."
The national conversation around the return of college sports amid the COVID-19 pandemic has centered to this point on college football. But the beginning of college basketball season comes less than two months after college football season kicks off in earnest during the first week of September. Pitino's public call for consideration of a delayed start makes him one of the most-prominent figures in either sport to publicly support a delayed return.
The NCAA Division I Council voted last month to allow up to eight weeks of required summer basketball activities to begin on July 20. But Pitino, 67, is one of several high-profile college basketball coaches over the age of 65, which according to the CDC, would put him at higher risk of complications from the coronavirus. The ACC alone has five men's basketball coaches who are 70 years of age or older.
Several universities have reported that student-athletes have tested positive for COVID-19 as they have returned to campus for voluntary workouts.