Mark Emmert: Bubbles Are 'Perfectly Viable' for 2021 NCAA Championships

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistAugust 14, 2020

FILE - In this Feb. 11, 2020, file photo, NCAA President Mark Emmert testifies during a Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing on intercollegiate athlete compensation on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Power Five conferences spent $350,000 on lobbying in the first three months of 2020, more than they had previously spent in any full year, as part of a coordinated effort to influence Congress on legislation affecting the ability of college athletes to earn endorsement money. At the hearing in February, NCAA President Mark Emmert said Congress needs to put “guardrails” on athletes' ability to earn money, in part to protect against potential recruiting abuses and endorsement money being used as a pay-for-play scheme. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Susan Walsh/Associated Press

NCAA President Mark Emmert said using the bubble approach to holding live sports, similar to the model the NBA and NHL have used upon their returns, is "perfectly viable in many sports," according to Jeff Borzello of ESPN.

As for how that might work in basketball, Emmert noted: "Starting with 64 teams is tough. Thirty-two, OK, maybe that's a manageable number. Sixteen, certainly manageable. But you've got to figure out those logistics. There's doubtlessly ways to make that work."

Emmert also said Thursday that non-FBS sports would not hold fall championships:

The NCAA will almost assuredly devise a way to hold the men's and women's basketball tournaments after canceling them in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Going two straight years without its signature event would be devastating for the sport. 

"Men's and women's basketball, we've got to do what we need to do to support those athletes and those timelines," Emmert said. "We're talking, of course, with our media partners pretty constantly now about what flexibility they would have and we would have. We'd love nothing more than to hold the current dates constant, and that may well be doable."

But there is also the matter of the spring athletes who saw their entire seasons canceled this year. It's hard to know how widespread the coronavirus will be in the United States at that point or if testing will be more available or a vaccine created. 

There's also the question of potentially holding fall sports in the spring of 2021. Emmert kept that door open on Thursday. 

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

"This is mostly logistics and healthcare and media time. These are not insurmountable problems," he said. "They're hard, but they're not insurmountable."

As for football, the SEC, ACC and Big 12 are planning to go ahead with their fall seasons, at least at this point. The Pac-12 and Big Ten have canceled their fall seasons, with the possibility of holding them in the spring.