In wake of the college basketball season starting in 11 days, Iona men's basketball coach Rick Pitino does not want to put his program or other athletes in jeopardy of testing positive for COVID-19.
Pitino tweeted Saturday that, in order to "save the season," college basketball should delay the start of its upcoming campaign due to the spike in COVID-19 cases across the country.
"Move the start back," Pitino said. "Play league schedule and have May Madness. Spiking and protocols make it impossible to play right now."
Iona is already on a two-week shutdown because of a COVID-19 case within the program, though no player or coach has tested positive, according to The Journal News. The Gaels' first four games have been either postponed or canceled.
According to Stadium basketball analyst Jeff Goodman, Iona is one of 20 programs that are currently shut down. Those programs include Seton Hall, UConn, Albany, Belmont, Canisius, Citadel, Marist, Marshall, Niagara, Oakland, Rider, Sacred Heart, Siena, Southeastern Louisiana, Southern Illinois, Stetson, UMass, Lowell, USC Upstate and Winthrop.
Goodman also said one mid-major college basketball program has been shut down 52 days since mid-July due to coronavirus-related issues.
Initially, Pitino was to begin his first season with Iona with the Gaels taking on Fordham on Nov. 25, as one of the 45 games played in Mohegan Sun. But because of the program's shutdown, it no longer will be participating in "Bubbleville," according to The Journal News.
Before coaching in the Euroleague, Pitino won NCAA titles at Kentucky and Louisville, reaching seven Final Fours and claiming conference titles in the Big East, SEC and ACC. His national title victory and two Final Four appearances at Louisville were vacated after a slew of scandals led to his firing in 2018.
Iona went 12–17 during the 2019-20 season to finish sixth in the MAAC.