Pitino Advocating to Start College Basketball a Season Later

Pitino Advocating to Start College Basketball a Season Later
Rick Pitino is a voice of reason in wanting to move back the college basketball season.
 
Pitino has been among the best coaches in college basketball history. He is the only coach to lead three teams to the Final Four (Providence, Kentucky and Louisville). 
 
Pitino guided Kentucky to the 1996 title and Louisville in 2013. 
 
Louisville’s participation in the 2013 tournament was later vacated by the Committee on Infractions.  
 
In June 2017, the NCAA suspended Pitino for five games of the 2017–18 season for his lack of oversight in an escort sex scandal involving recruits. Louisville's national championship from 2013 was eventually vacated as well.  
 
Pitino was fired in Oct. of 2017. In September of 2019, Pitino settled with Louisville and dropped a $38.7 million lawsuit against the school. His termination was changed from a firing to a resignation.  
 
He has now resurfaced in the college game as the head coach of Iona.  
 
There is no doubt in anybody’s mind that Pinto will win big. 
 
Every team he has ever coached, he eventually led to the NCAA tournament, beginning with Boston U and then continuing with Providence, Kentucky and Louisville. 
 
Pitino didn’t have success as an NBA coach with a 192-220 record as coach of the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics. 
 
Yet he has been a genius college coach. Now 68, he doesn’t have to prove himself as a coach. Despite the problems at Louisville, he has great respect in the game and he recently came out with some suggestions for college basketball in this season of dealing with COVID-19 from the onset. 
 
Last year the college basketball season was canceled in March, just before the NCAA Tournament was about to be played. 
 
It was a critical blow for college basketball programs. 
 
The NCAA said the cancellation cost the schools $375 million, the money they didn’t earn, with television revenue the biggest loss of income. 
 
The NCAA was originally going to distribute $600 million to more than 1,200 schools across all divisions before the cancellation. It ended up distributing $225 million according to USA Today and other media outlets.  
 
According to Forbes, the current television deal between CBS and Turner Broadcasting with the NCAA averages $771 million a year. An extension that goes from 2025 through 2032 will average $1.1 billion a year.  
 
With that as a backdrop, the NCAA can’t afford to go another year without the tournament. 
 
The college basketball season is ready to tip off on Nov. 25, even though many teams haven’t announced their full schedule yet. 
 
The NCAA also has other national television contracts in the regular season, including with ESPN. 
 
Many feel that colleges should only play conference games this year, but there will be non-conference games, which are popular on television.  
 
That said, Pitino feels that the Nov. 25 start is too early. 
 
Here is what he tweeted about the topic: “Save the Season. Move the start back. Play league schedule and have May Madness. Spiking and protocols make it impossible to play right now.”
 
College basketball teams, especially those playing non-conference games, often have to travel by air for those matchups. Then again, many have to do that for conference games as well, but the thinking is that if a team has fewer games to travel to, then it could help limit the chance for positive COVID-19 results. 
 
If the season began, say January 25, the country could even be closer to, or even have a vaccine available.   
 
Right now with rising cases, college teams would be taking a risk. Look at all the football games that have had to be either postponed or canceled recently.  
 
The NBA was able to play in a pandemic and have zero positive tests because there was daily testing and the league paid an estimated $150 million to make their bubble in Orlando successful. 
 
Most college programs don’t have the finances to have daily testing.  

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While it won’t be impossible, starting the season Nov. 25 will be extremely difficult. Pitino has seen the game go through several stages since he began coaching as an assistant at Hawaii in 1974. The NCAA should listen to what he has to say because pulling back now may make completing the season easier to do in the long run.

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Author: Marc Narducci

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