NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt offered a dose of optimism to college basketball fans everywhere Wednesday afternoon when he assured that a March Madness tournament will happen in 2021. 

“We’ll be flexible. We’ll be nimble and we’ll deliver what the country is desperately looking for again and that’s just an incredible March Madness tournament in 2021,” Gavitt told Andy Katz on a call.

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Gavitt’s assertion comes after the Pac-12 postponed all collegiate sports until Jan. 1, 2021, on Tuesday. The Big Ten also announced they would be postponing fall sports to 2021 for potential competition in the spring. 

NCAA Tournament Selection Committee Chair Mitch Barnhart and NABC’s Craig Robinson were also on the call. Barnhart stressed that there is a hunger for collegiate sports, not only from fans but also among student-athletes. 

“The absence of March Madness was absolutely difficult for our country. We can laugh — we can talk about how it really shouldn’t be that way, but the reality was that it is something we all rally around,” Barnhart said. “We will absolutely do all we can do — whatever assets, whatever resources, whatever it takes — to try and give our young people the chance to play the game they love.”

Outside of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and the health and safety of student-athletes across the country, logistics offer another challenge for March Madness decision-makers.

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Inclusivity and flexibility will have to be top priorities for everyone, from fans to school administrators to media members when it comes to the production of a 2021 tournament, according to Gavitt. 

“Our first and primary goal and preference is to have the tournament on the dates that are set, at the venues that are pre-determined, but if the virus necessitates a different path, we will adjust accordingly,” Gavitt said. “The health and safety of the players and the coaches and all the people around the game — the referees and fans will be primary.”

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