With football already postponed in the Big Ten and other college conferences across the country, there's a concern that basketball could be next. Michigan State's Tom Izzo believes the season is safe.
"I know this, I think basketball guys will learn from football, and I’m close to my football guys and a lot of football guys in this country. We’re going to try and get ahead of it a little better. I 100 percent believe we’re going to play," Izzo told the morning show on 97.1 The Ticket.
As he prepares for his 26th season as head coach of the Spartans, Izzo feels there's enough time between now and November to collect more information on COVID-19 and get the proper protocols in place. Compared to football, basketball also has the advantage of considerably smaller rosters.
"I think there’s a lot of things that are going to happen. Ours is a little easier to manage," Izzo said. "One, I don’t know why, I just think they’ll be a vaccine. I think the testing, you hear about the saliva test that the NBA and I think the NFL is using isn't quite FDA approved but it’s getting close. I think there’s a lot of things that could change in the weeks to come and hopefully that’ll advance us and we get a chance to learn."
Izzo is also encouraged by the way his team handled the virus after returning to campus for workouts earlier this summer.
"We came back a couple weeks before the 4th of July and when I say that we were COVID free, we made it though. We were one of the few Big Ten teams that actually made it through," he said. "Is that an accomplishment? I guess so. Was it us badgering (our players), staying on them, talking to them, educating them? Did we get lucky dodging bullets? Maybe, probably a little bit of both.
"I think this is good discipline in a day and age where I’m not sure there’s a lot of discipline or accountability in our country. I think sports could help bring that back."
Echoing the words of many college football coaches, Izzo said the protections in place at MSU make it one of the safest places for student-athletes to be.
"If I had a son, which I do, and he’s actually playing a little bit for me, I can’t think of any safer place than where he spent the last six, seven weeks," Izzo said. "We tested every week, we quarantined, we educated and supported."
So long as the athletes stay vigilant when they return to campus for the start of the school year, Izzo is confident the college basketball season will arrive on time.
"The sacrifices these kids have made to get where they’re at, I think now we gotta say, 'Hey, you know what, guys -- you can’t be the normal college student,'" said Izzo. "But probably we’ve been saying that for 50 years, 'You can’t do everything the normal student does.' And now it’s just taken to a new level."