What NCAA ruling means to Utah Utes basketball program

Utah Utes head coach Larry Krystkowiak talks to forward Mikael Jantunen (20) and guard Both Gach (11) during the game against the Washington State Cougars at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020.

Utah Utes head coach Larry Krystkowiak talks to forward Mikael Jantunen (20) and guard Both Gach (11) during the game against the Washington State Cougars at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Utes waiting to see if Pac-12 will move up season start from Jan. 1

SALT LAKE CITY — As expected, the NCAA Division I Council voted Wednesday to move back the start of the 2020-21 college basketball season by a couple of weeks and announced the new season will begin Nov. 25.

While that allows most of the country’s 353 Division I teams to begin on the day before Thanksgiving, one conference that isn’t quite in the clear yet is the Pac-12.

That’s because the Pac-12, which includes the University of Utah, declared last month that no games would be played before Jan. 1. It’s the only conference that has such a timeline.

Earlier this week, however, sources in the Pac-12 office said the league could be in position to move its starting date for sports earlier because of the improvements in rapid testing thanks to the league’s contract with Quidel Corporation, beginning later this month.

And late Wednesday afternoon, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott opened the door to a return to competition because of statements by the governors of California and Oregon earlier in the day, saying there are no restrictions to a return to contact practice, which would include basketball.

That’s been a roadblock for schools in California and Oregon, which constitute half of the schools in the Pac-12, because their student-athletes haven’t even been on campus yet for any workouts, which Utah and other schools have done for the past month or so.

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But Governor Gavin Newsom of California and Governor Kate Brown of Oregon released statements earlier in the day, saying there were no state restrictions and that county public health officials would be the ones to give clearance for contact practice and competition.

“We are eager for our student-athletes to have the opportunity to play this season, as soon as it can be done safely and in accordance with public health authority approvals,” Scott said.

Utah basketball coach Larry Krystkowiak preferred not to comment on the NCAA decision Wednesday, choosing to wait until the Pac-12 makes a definitive decision about a start date.

However, last month he said he would be in favor of an earlier starting date and said his team could get ready to play with a month of full practice instead of the usual six weeks if needed. Wednesday’s NCAA announcement allows teams to begin practice on Oct. 14, six weeks before the Nov. 25 starting date.

The Nov. 25 starting date happens to be the first day of the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament that the Utes are scheduled to play in with teams such as Duke, Memphis and West Virginia. It has been reported by various sources this week that the tournament will be moved from the Bahamas to Sioux Falls, …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Sports News

      

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