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DeWine removes one barrier; NCAA hesitates

Xavier may not play this year, but it won’t be the state preventing them.

What a capacity crowd will likely look like this season
Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images

Earlier today Ohio’s governor finally made the announcement that the sporting portion of the state had been waiting for: fall sports seasons can go ahead. There are caveats, only family members of the participants can be in the seats, site inspections for each team will be required, but everything from youth soccer to the NFL has been given the go ahead to play their sporting season without violating state law.

This is actually is a significant development for Xavier basketball. The Big East or the NCAA deciding to return to play would have no standing if Xavier’s own state was still prohibiting play. With that now out of the way, Coach Steele and staff can focus their attention on finding out what the Big East and the rest of college sports are going to do with the season.

Which brings us to the paragon of good sense that is the NCAA. Dan Gavitt released a statement yesterday saying... nothing, really. Here, in its entirety, is the release:

“As we prepare for the 2020-21 college basketball season, we have exercised patience and discipline in monitoring the effects of COVID-19 and making decisions regarding the season. We have learned a great deal over the course of the summer, and with health and safety being our priority, we have developed and studied contingency plans for alternatives to the scheduled Nov. 10 start date.

In the coming weeks, the NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Oversight Committees will take the lead with me in a collaborative process of finalizing any recommendations for consideration by the NCAA Division I Council for the start of the college basketball season. By mid-September, we will provide direction about whether the season and practice start on time or a short-term delay is necessitated by the ongoing pandemic.

We recognize that we are living and operating in an uncertain time, and it is likely that mid-September will be just the first milestone for many important decisions pertaining to the regular season and the NCAA basketball championships. While circumstances may warrant flexibility resulting in a different and perhaps imperfect season, the ultimate goal is to safely provide student-athletes and teams with a great college basketball experience.”

That reads like buzzword bingo. Were you taking a shot for each word you are like to find in a corporate memo you’d likely be over the legal limit by the start of the third paragraph. The process is “collaborative,” the “student-athletes” must be safe, there are plans on “contingency,” and they will “provide direction.” Is there any of said direction anywhere in there? No. Essentially the NCAA would like you to hurry up and wait. This is fine and, quite likely, the right thing to do, but a press release that takes three paragraphs to say very little is peak NCAA.

We’ll know more come September. For now, Ohio will let the players play. The NCAA is going to hurry up and wait. Halfway through August, the start of November remains no more clear.