Iona’s Rick Pitino advocates for ‘May Madness’ as coronavirus looms over basketball season

The coronavirus pandemic is still determining whether college basketball games get played as some teams’ seasons have been postponed because of several outbreaks at a handful of schools.

Iona men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino on Saturday advocated for the NCAA to postpone the season because so many schools are still dealing with COVID-19 related issues.

“Save the Season. Move the start back. Play league schedule and have May Madness. Spiking and protocols make it impossible to play right now,” Pitino tweeted.

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The Gaels announced earlier in the week that the men’s basketball team halted activities because of a positive coronavirus test reported among student-athletes, coaches, staff and managers.

“As with all positive cases since the beginning of the semester, our priority is the health and safety of the Iona community and surrounding area,” Iona athletic director Matthew Glovaski said in a press release Thursday. “Isolation, quarantine and contact tracing protocols are underway as we follow all local and state guidelines in response to a positive result.”

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Pitino added in the news release: “Since coming together in August, we’ve carefully followed protocols and have been part of a strong testing program. With this being our first positive case, this serves as an important reminder for everyone to exercise the necessary precautions to help stop the spread of this virus. The health and safety of our student-athletes, staff and community are our utmost priority. We will continue to make decisions out of an abundance of caution, as we look forward to resuming activities as soon as return to play guidelines deem it safe.”

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Iona is scheduled to start the season against Fordham on Nov. 25. The team will also take part in Bubbleville as part of college basketball’s big start to the season at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut.