The NCAA Division I Council announced Wednesday that men’s and women’s basketball would start Nov. 25, keeping the hopes of March Madness alive and showing the disparity between the lower divisions.
Division II officials aren’t expected to make an announcement until early October and will likely keep the January 2021 start date in mind.
Division I conferences benefit from the $19.6 billion TV contract from CBS and TNT, which broadcast the NCAA tournament. That money allows schools to afford COVID-19 tests, contact tracing and a lot of influence from Division I administrators.
The West Region schools in Division II have had their seasons suspended until January by their conferences, the Pacific West, California Collegiate Athletic Association and Great Northwest Athletic Conference.
“With the Hawaii and California schools, the health and safety of the student-athletes is our No. 1 concern,” UHH athletic director Pat Guillen said. “Pushing back our championship dates by two or three weeks may help us have a longer season. We can’t do anything until January. We’re shooting for a starting date in January and will go from there.”
Guillen pointed out there is a double-edged sword benefit to the delay. UHH’s budget is mostly targeted toward travel. With no travel until January, the school can squirrel away money.
He also said he doesn’t anticipate eliminating any programs, unlike UH-Manoa, which terminated beach volleyball coach Jeff Hall and combined the beach and indoor programs.
“Financially, we’re OK. We know we’re going to take a hit,” Guillen said. “But we don’t know what that cut will be. Not traveling has been a blessing in disguise. We’re constantly replanning things every day. Everyone is in the same boat. It’s not just us.”
He said every time he goes out in public someone is asking when UHH sports will start.
“People in the community ask me when we’re going to play again,” he said. “There are some people who never miss a game, volleyball, basketball. The lady who cuts my hair said she can’t stand not going to games. I want to get playing as soon as possible.”
There are social distancing plans in place should the Vulcans host games. But things could always change.
“We made plans back in September,” he said. “A lot of things could be different in January. The best-case scenario is there’s a vaccine and everybody gets treated and comes out to watch volleyball and basketball. We’ll see.”
BIIF sports on hold
The Hawaii High School Athletic Association’s “no contact period” between coaches and student-athletes ended Sunday. But the BIIF schools are still waiting for the Department of Education, which extended virtual learning until Oct. 2.
“We’re still waiting for the state to update us on the schedule. That’s a big if to start school for the DOE,” Hawaii Prep athletic director Stephen Perry said. “We’re still talking about starting in January and try to fit in all the fall sports. Girls volleyball could run with boys volleyball in the spring. It’s all contingent when the DOE opens up the schools. Hopefully, it’ll be soon.”
Perry said the next BIIF athletic directors meeting is next week.