The Big West revealed its coronavirus-adjusted conference schedule for men’s and women’s basketball Wednesday and, as expected, it didn’t look as it might have in previous seasons. The conference also announced it would hold its tournaments March 10-13 at Honda Center.
Unlike past seasons, when games were played primarily Thursdays and Saturdays, the revised 2020-21 schedule calls for games to be played against the same opponent and at the same site mostly on Fridays and Saturdays rather than in the customary round-robin home-and-home format.
For example, the Long Beach State men’s team opens Big West play Dec. 27 and 28 at UC Riverside and plays host to Cal State Bakersfield on Jan. 1 and 2 in its home-openers. UC Irvine begins conference play Dec. 27 and 28 with home games against UC Santa Barbara. Cal State Northridge plays Dec. 27 and 28 at Cal State Fullerton.
The women’s schedule follows a similar format.
Games will be played without fans in attendance to start the season, but that will be revisited later. A bye week is built into an 11-week schedule. Games will not be rescheduled should one team be forced to quarantine because of the coronavirus, the conference said.
“The Big West Board of Directors did due diligence in examining all of the factors involved in a safe and responsible return to competition, with basketball being the pilot moving forward,” conference commissioner Dan Butterly said in a statement.
“The Big West Conference understands the need for consistent and multi-layered levels of testing protocols that put safety at the forefront of our member institutions. Cognizant of state and county restrictions and the NCAA Core Principles of Resocialization of College Basketball, we feel we have a plan in place that will adhere to those matters.”
Butterly thanked Dr. Jim Borchers from the U.S. Council for Athletes’ Heath for his assistance during the process of scheduling the men’s and women’s conference games. Scheduling nonconference games is “at the discretion” of the individual schools, the conference said. Travel is expected to be limited.
Standardized coronavirus testing for players, coaches and staff members throughout the conference was one of the issues that needed to be addressed. Limiting travel and removing the traditional Friday off day between games was another significant issue.
“We’ve been working on testing protocols for everyone,” Long Beach State athletic director Andy Fee told the Southern California News Group. “The weird one, the one you wouldn’t ever have thought about before now is whose policy do you use outside of the conference? Is UCLA testing us? Or are we bringing our own tests with us?”