Update: 1:30 p.m.
Statement from ESPN re: Orlando bubble: "ESPN Events set out to create a protected environment for teams to participate in early-season events in Orlando. Based on certain challenges surrounding testing protocols, we opted to resume these tournaments during the 2021-22 season."— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) October 26, 2020
The NBA might have been able to pull off a bubble in The Happiest Place on Earth, but it looks like college basketball won’t happen.
Seth Davis of The Athletic is reporting that ESPN’s plan to hold 10 holiday basketball tournaments owned by the network’s ESPN Events arm at Disney’s Wide World of Sports have been scuttled.
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.”
Overby said the network hopes to salvage two doubleheaders, the Champions Classic and the Jimmy V Classic, at other locations. Michigan State, Kansas and Gonzaga were scheduled to play in one of the two remaining events as well as a multi-team event in Orlando. Virginia, Florida State and Texas Tech are among the dozens of teams that will be affected by the cancellation of the Preseason NIT, Orlando Invitational, Diamond Head Classic, Wooden Legacy, Charleston Classic and Myrtle Beach Invitational. If the Champions and Jimmy V do not happen, that would affect Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Baylor, Rutgers and Tennessee.
There will still be Thanksgiving basketball it appears, as Mohegan Sun is also attempting to put multiple events together in a bubble. We’ve been to the American Conference women’s tournament there several times, and there might not be a better facility in America to try and pull this off as the arena is a simple walk from the elevators.
There will still be other tournaments as the former Battle 4 Atlantis (now the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic) heads to Sioux Falls, and the Maui Classic will happen in Asheville, North Carolina. But this is a huge hit to many programs, particularly mid-majors looking for Quadrant 1 wins that can help come Selection Sunday.