The ongoing coronavirus pandemic sunk multiple sporting competitions around the world this year, including March Madness and the 2020 NCAA Tournament.
A day after both the Big Ten and Pac-12 postponed football and other fall sports due to the uncontrolled virus outbreak, NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt defiantly declared via an online discussion he's planning for a 2021 tournament:
(Gavitt's comments begin at around the 2:08 mark)
“We will absolutely do all we can do - whatever assets, whatever resources, whatever it takes - to try & give our young people the chance to play the game they love.”— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) August 12, 2020
-2021 Selection Committee Chair @UKMitchBarnhart pic.twitter.com/8RkNHZwDj2
"We are going to have a tournament that's going to be special. We have our preferences about how we’d like to have it be, but if we have to adjust to the virus, which we don’t control, we will adjust accordingly. And the health and safety of the players and the coaches and all the people around the games, the referees and fans, will be primary. But ultimately it will also include determining a national champion in the fairest and most equitable way that we can under these unusual circumstances.
"So, I think it’s important to note we’re going to have all sorts of contingencies and plans if it’s necessitated. We’re just not in the position to be able to talk about those in the middle of August, because that’s not what our primary goal is.
"But, at the appropriate time and place, if we need to adjust, we will. We'll be flexible. We'll be nimble. And we'll deliver what the country is desperately looking for again, and that's an incredible March Madness tournament in 2021."
Last week, Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports reported some college basketball campaigns could occur in "bubble" hubs similar to scenarios used by the NBA and NHL for return-to-play formats:
Sources: Several power conferences in college basketball have had preliminary discussions about holding games next season in a "bubble" type setting.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) August 6, 2020
This is one of many potential options on the table, but one that gains traction with student athletes taking classes online.
The Pac-12 has already said member basketball programs won't play until January 2021 at the earliest. Other conferences and universities around the country are waiting until fall to make final decisions on basketball schedules.