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Report: Big East Mulls College Basketball Bubble

Jason Scott

The pandemic has already upended the 2020-21 college sports calendar, but as the fall season (or what remains of it) moves forward, some officials are already considering what to do with college basketball.

One idea reportedly under consideration by the Big East Conference is to mimic what the NBA did to resume its season: plan a “bubble” for men’s and women’s basketball to allow for the safe playing of a conference season.

“We definitely talk about it. There’s been discussions in every meeting since June about different concepts and over the last two-to-three weeks we’ve had presentations of some early ideas from the league office, how [a bubble] could look,” St. John’s athletic director Mike Cragg told The New York Post. “I’m not in favor of a three-month bubble or the whole season. That’s not practical. I am interested in short bursts of a bubble. If you can create a two- or three-week bubble and play six or eight games, I think that makes a lot of sense.”

The bubble concept is just one under consideration by the league, which views itself as basketball-first. Other ideas are beginning the regular season on time as scheduled without fans present, or postponing the start of the season into January. 

Meanwhile, different approaches to the bubble itself are also up for discussion. One model imagines a bubble with space for 22 teams — both men’s and women’s. Others would separate men’s and women’s teams, or break men’s and women’s teams down into two regional bubbles.

If the bubble idea comes to fruition, it would require buy-in from colleges and universities, as well as television partners. Schools would need a class structure allowing virtual instruction, so that student-athletes wouldn’t miss class. 

Cragg is one of the Big East administrators weighing in on options to present scenarios in which a season can take place. 

“At this stage, our job is to come up with as many ways as could be possible [to have a season],” Cragg said, adding, “If the season was to start tomorrow, [a bubble] is the only way we could do it.”

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