Rick Pitino and the Iona Gaels won't play again until the MAAC tournament tips off. Mark Vergari/The Journal News via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Iona men's basketball shuts down until MAAC tournament due to COVID-19

The Iona Gaels men's basketball team won't play another regular-season game until the fall months at the earliest. 

Per Zach Braziller of the New York Post, Iona confirmed on Monday that it is pausing for the third time because of COVID-19 issues affecting the program. As a result, the Gaels have been shut down through the conclusion of the regular season. 

Braziller added that Iona considered prematurely ending the campaign entirely but instead elected to participate in the MAAC tournament that begins on March 8. 

"This is extremely unfortunate news to learn at a time so late in the season," head coach Rick Pitino said in a prepared statement. "I feel awful for our student-athletes who worked so hard to get back following our pause that lasted nearly two months. The pandemic is still very real, and ultimately the health and safety of those around the program is most important. We look forward to returning and competing in the MAAC Championship in March."

Earlier this season, Iona endured a 51-day pause because of a coronavirus outbreak. Despite that setback, the Gaels have played the required minimum of 13 games and, thus, will be eligible to qualify for the NCAA Tournament next month. 

Iona improved to 8-5 overall and 6-3 in the conference with a win over the Monmouth Hawks this past Saturday. 

Zac Wassink is a football and futbol aficionado who is a PFWA member and is probably yelling about Tottenham Hotspur at the moment. Erik Lamela and Eli Manning apologist. Chanted for Matt Harvey to start the ninth inning of Game 5 of the 2015 World Series at Citi Field. Whoops. You can find him on Twitter at @ZacWassink

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