For years, Mike Krzyzewski has been touted as the college basketball czar the sport needs. With schools scrambling to complete schedules less than a month before the season starts, he seemed to be campaigning for that role as he questioned some of the decisions made by the NCAA and other officials in the offseason.
During his preseason virtual press conference Wednesday, the legendary Duke coach said rules tied to the maximum allotment of 27 games for the upcoming season have created more challenges.
The NCAA initially said schools could reach the maximum of 27 games by entering one multiteam event (MTE). Last week, however, the NCAA changed course and announced that teams could play in two multiteam events to reach that number.
"In cutting down from 31 [games] to 27 [games], it should have been where you just give 27 games," he said. "We didn't do that, so then people tried to form their own MTEs, get into different things and now, you can get into two MTEs. You're trying to figure out games. I just think the planning in that regard was not very good. Once you cut down from 31 to 27, you should've just given everyone an opportunity to schedule and not worry about the MTEs. We actually have formed our own because we had to. It's crazy. It could've been easy to just say 'Everyone's got 27, let's go.'"
Krzyzewski joked that Duke might have to play opponents from local playgrounds to complete its schedule.
He also suggested that conferences, not the NCAA, have to do the significant work to make the season succeed.
"There is no regular season," he said. "From the very start, this was not looked at as a time that we are in a pandemic and there is not going to be a regular season, not like what we've had. The NCAA got a starting date and they got an end date. Nothing against them. That's the main thing they're concerned about, then it really goes to the conferences to figure it all out. ... We're going to have March Madness. We don't know how teams will get in. We don't know a lot of things but we know we're going to have a regular season. We just don't know much about both. That's a helluva way to run a railroad."
Earlier this week, ESPN announced it had ended efforts to host multiple preseason events in Orlando, Florida, next month because of logistical, health and safety concerns. Teams around the country continue to seek alternative MTEs or other nonconference options before the Nov. 25 start of the season.
College basketball will return at a difficult time. Multiple programs have either cut sports or announced significant deficits. On Tuesday, Bethune-Cookman, a historically Black college, announced it would not play sports in 2020-2021 because of concerns about the virus. At UC Riverside, officials are fighting to prevent the elimination of the entire athletic department.
Meanwhile, many states are experiencing an uptick in cases as the virus continues to spread.
While Krzyzewski cited concerns about the uncertainty, he said he hopes a national standard around COVID-19 will arrive in time for the college basketball season.
"Hopefully, by the time we do play, there will be national protocols medically so that everyone who's playing against one another will be under the same medical protocols, which I think are essential to the safety of these kids," he said. "We're good. Our guys are good. They all want to play and we've got to make sure that there's a safe environment and they have an opportunity to play."