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Survival mode

NCAA trying to cook up realistic plan for Season 96; tournament must start by April 2021
/ 04:05 AM May 11, 2020
Letran Knights NCAA Season 95 finals

Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

If the NCAA wants to save Season 96, it has to start by April 2021. And if it takes that long to resume competitions, that would mean the longest disruption for the country’s oldest collegiate league in more than five decades.

Facing scheduling, logistical and financial turbulence after its season was shot down by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the NCAA Management Committee (Mancom) is trying its best to piece together a viable road map for the next staging of the tournament.

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And it isn’t easy.

“If indeed we could start in April, we would need at the very least two months to prepare for a season,” said Season 95 Mancom chief Peter Cayco of Arellano University, who added the NCAA Mancom has been meeting regularly via Zoom to decide on how it is best to proceed after the season was canceled due to the restrictive quarantine measures imposed to curb the pandemic.

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The problems are aplenty.

To begin with, Cayco said a foremost consideration is how soon a cure for COVID-19 is discovered and when will it be readily available.

“Everything depends on that [vaccine] because the students’ health is on top of our concerns,” he said.

Logistically, the uncertainty of the lockdown schedule makes it difficult for schools to collect their student-athletes, some of whom are fanned out in their respective home provinces. And even if schools reel their athletes back into campuses, stringent distancing measures also complicate training protocols.And then there’s the uncertainty of the school year’s schedule.

“Remember that we are also running the schools, not just our NCAA participations,” Cayco said.

On top of that, the Mancom has to deal with the financial repercussions of the pandemic. A leaked Letran document later led to revelations of meetings among schools discussing the possibility of reducing the NCAA events to the four mandatory sports: athletics, swimming, basketball and volleyball.

An Inquirer source even said that school representatives were talking about reducing the next season to “friendly matches” among schools still capable of spending for their student-athletes.

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The Inquirer learned that a school spends up to 10 million per season to maintain its roster of NCAA teams.Cayco said Arellano can maintain teams in all 11 sports for next season. The school is the defending women’s volleyball champion and was seeking a fourth straight crown this year.

Letran had earlier confirmed the contents of the leaked memo, but said the recommendations there—including cutting down on the number of student-athletes and withdrawing allowances and dorm privileges—were for study purposes and not for implementation.

Letran is the defending men’s basketball champion and can defend its crown if the NCAA pushes through with playing just the mandatory sports.

The league took its longest break during the war from 1942 to 1947. It was not held in the 1962-63 season because of disagreements among member schools. INQ

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