NCAA senior vice president of men's basketball Dan Gavitt insists there will be March Madness in 2021.
The popular NCAA Tournament was canceled last season due to the coronavirus pandemic, and COVID-19 remains a threat less than three months before the scheduled start of the 2020-21 college basketball season.
"We'll be flexible. We'll be nimble and we'll deliver what the country is desperately looking for again and that's just an incredible March Madness tournament in 2021," Gavitt said during a video call.
Gavitt is aware the virus has to be accounted for in any tournament plans. He sees the NBA and WNBA playing successfully in bubbles in Florida and is confident something can be figured out.
"While we may not be able to replicate what the NBA and WNBA are doing exactly, we can take and learn from that experience and, if necessary, implement that in a tournament setting. That's what gives me confidence for March Madness," Gavitt told The Athletic.
"All that being said, that's not our planning right now. Our planning is for a traditional format of the tournament, with the dates and sites as normal. We are going to have a Plan B, C and D, and we are far along in developing all of them. We are hopeful we're not going to get there, but we are prepared."
The Pac-12 has already decided its clubs won't play basketball this season before the arrival of 2021. Other conferences also could make decisions to push their schedules back.
NCAA Tournament selection committee chairman Mitch Barnhart said there is a strong hunger right now for college basketball and other sports.
"The absence of March Madness was absolutely difficult for our country," said Barnhart, the athletic director at Kentucky. "We can laugh -- we can talk about how it really shouldn't be that way, but the reality was that it is something we all rally around.
"We will absolutely do all we can do -- whatever assets, whatever resources, whatever it takes -- to try and give our young people the chance to play the game they love."
--Field Level Media