The NCAA might not be able to recover if it is forced to cancel its “March Madness” postseason basketball tournaments for a second straight year due to the coronavirus pandemic, legendary Duke University basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski said Tuesday.
The status of all upcoming college sports, including the lucrative football and basketball seasons, is in doubt this fall amid concerns about the potential health risks to student-athletes. While the start of college basketball season is still months away, Krzyzewski, better known as “Coach K,” is already expressing concern about the potential impact of another cancellation.
"We're the thing that the NCAA is most concerned about because men's college basketball and the tournament pays for something like ... it produces 98% or more of the money for the NCAA," Krzyzewski said on Tuesday's edition of the Keyshawn, JWIll & Zubin show on ESPN Radio. "We need to have the tournament. We can't have it where two years in a row you don't have the NCAA tournament."
The NCAA said it lost $375 million in revenue following the decision to cancel “March Madness” earlier this year. Collegiate officials took the unprecedented step last March after the worsening pandemic made it impossible to safely host games.
College officials have already canceled fall championships for most sports, but have yet to make a decision on winter and spring championships.
The postseason basketball tournaments account for more than 90 percent of the NCAA’s annual revenue. The NCAA made significant cuts to its annual disbursement of revenue due to the shortfall.
Coach K said the NCAA should find a way to host this year’s event, even if it has to resort to a “bubble” environment, such as that implemented by the NBA, or start the tournaments later than usual.
"I think that's where you should start," Krzyzewski said on ESPN Radio. "Make sure you have the tournament. It doesn't make any difference when it is. Because we don't even know when the NBA season is going to be next year. And we should look at them to see how they navigate the waters going forward. They've navigated them really well with the bubble."