The East Tennessee State basketball team is in quarantine after two people connected with the program tested positive for COVID-19 last week.
Bucs coach Jason Shay said his team will not be able to practice during the 14-day quarantine.
“I’d rather have it happen in September than have it in December,” Shay said Thursday during his weekly Zoom call with the media. “We’ve got to work through it. It is the protocol and first and foremost is the safety and health of our players.
“We got a good six-and-a-half weeks of work in and we’d normally have a break between the end of summer school and the start of the fall semester. So they probably needed a little bit of a break.”
The NCAA Division I Council pushed the start of the college basketball season back to Nov. 25 on Wednesday. It was originally scheduled to start Nov. 10.
The NCAA also ruled that teams could play a maximum of 27 games and a minimum of 13.
Still uncertain is what will become of the games scheduled before Nov. 25, such as ETSU’s scheduled games in the Cancun Challenge, and other non-conference games.
“We’ve had discussions with teams that are already on our schedule and everybody right now is willing to play the schedule as we have it set,” Shay said. “I think there’s a lot of discussions behind the scenes on what is going to happen. You know the situation is still pretty fluid. Everybody’s still trying to figure it out, but we’re trying to do that as quickly as possible because we’re about 10 weeks away from starting.”
The Bucs’ schedule will include 18 Southern Conference games and Shay says he wants to play the maximum number of games, so that will leave nine dates for non-conference opponents.
ETSU had not released its full schedule because it was still trying to add two games. Now the entire thing is up in the air and everybody will be scrambling to schedule over the next few weeks.
“We’re looking to see if we are going to be able to try and squeeze some games in possibly, but you know there’s not many opportunities because of the number of games from the 25th on moving forward,” Shay said. “It’s a challenge. Can, can we squeeze them in? I think this is going to be a unique year. We’re just trying to figure out who’s willing to play.”
Shay said there were three scenarios that could happen. The first is to push the non-conference games scheduled before Nov. 25 to the following season. The other two are to reschedule them for later this season or cancel them altogether.
“There’s a lot of contractual issues as you move forward,” Shay said. “So we’re just kind of working through those.”
Even through the NCAA offered some solutions on Wednesday, there are still a lot more questions than answers.
“I think that’s a fair statement that we’ve got some direction, but we don’t have full direction,” Shay said. “We’re trying to work through those challenges that we have.”