The COVID-19 pandemic has brought incalculable difficulties to sports over the course of the last year. Nearly every athletic organization and league has been touched by the virus, but perhaps none as much as college basketball. With the season racing into March and towards the fast-approaching NCAA tournament, some universities will need to start making hard decisions about their coaching staffs.
Given how events have played out over this past year, Dick Vitale sent a message to program leaders across the country.
The long-time college basketball analyst recognizes the immense challenges that the sport has faced over the last year. Because of those difficulties, he hopes that the numerous effects of COVID-19 will be considered when making personnel decisions in the coming months.
“Hope Presidents & AD ‘s use discretion in making decisions about firing coaches & realize that Covid 19 has caused many a nightmare,” Vitale wrote in a tweet on Sunday night.
Hope Presidents & AD ‘s use discretion in making decisions about firing coaches & realize that Covid 19 has caused many a nightmare .
— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) February 28, 2021
Vitale raises an important point. College basketball hasn’t seen a season anything like this before, with various programs missing games, players or coaches for chunks of the year due to COVID-19 safety protocols. That doesn’t even include the mental toll that the pandemic can take on student-athletes that range from just 18 to 21-years-old.
The aforementioned difficulties have played out in an interesting way on college basketball court throughout the country. The sport’s blue bloods have struggled throughout the 2020-21 season, with big-name programs like Kentucky and Duke stumbling toward March. Whether it’s the pandemic or other factors at play, this year’s NCAA tournament field could be among the wackiest.
But Vitale isn’t issuing the message to protect coaches like John Calipari and Mike Krzyzewski. Plenty of smaller programs, with far less resources to deal with the pandemic, have been affected in a variety of ways. Some have risen above the adversity, but others have struggled when it comes to basketball.
All Vitale is asking for is a little grace. Hopefully, universities around the country heed his words and take the world outside of basketball into account over the next few weeks.
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