Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino is advocating for a delayed start to the NCAA basketball season, less than two weeks before the start of the season.
His tweet on Saturday came amid reports of shutdowns at 20 programs because of COVID-19 issues. Pitino is in his first season as the coach of Iona, which is one of the programs on pause.
"Save the Season. Move the start back. Play league schedule and have May Madness," Pitino said. "Spiking and protocols make it impossible to play right now."
The NCAA season opens Nov. 25. Pitino's Gaels are scheduled to play that day at Fordham.
Under NCAA guidelines, programs are recommended to quarantine for 14 days if a player, coach or certain staff members test positive for the virus.
Laws in some states and counties requiring quarantines after travel also could be disruptive for NCAA programs and players.
And in some locales, bans on gatherings of more than a few people have put seasons on hold. New Mexico and New Mexico State are among teams that are considering relocating for the season because of state regulations.
The coronavirus was declared a pandemic in the midst of most NCAA conference basketball tournaments in mid-March. The annual NCAA Basketball Tournament -- March Madness -- was called off.
ESPN reported Saturday that while the preference is for the tournament to be played in March, NCAA officials are weighing contingency plans.
Pitino's lengthy coaching resume includes work at Boston University (1978-83), Providence (1985-87), Kentucky (1989-97) and Louisville (2001-17). He compiled a 770-271 record and led his teams to seven Final Four appearances and two national championships.
He was the first Division I men's basketball coach to lead two different schools -- Kentucky in 1996 and Louisville in 2013 -- to national championships. The championship at Louisville was later vacated by the NCAA due to rules violations tied to an escort scandal.
Pitino, 68, also coached in the NBA with the New York Knicks (1987-89) and Boston Celtics (1997-2001) and compiled a 192-220 record.
Pitino was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013.
--Field Level Media
--Field Level Media