Trying to play college hoops amid COVID-19

Redbird Arena
It’s been 277 days since the Illinois State men’s basketball team has played inside Redbird Arena, according to ISU’s Red Alert. (WJBC file photo)

 

By Neil Doyle

NORMAL – College basketball is underway across the country, but COVID-19 hasn’t made things easy, especially in Bloomington-Normal.

The Illinois State women’s team had to cancel its first three games due to positive test results. The men’s team has been trying to find a few more opponents before the start of conference play.

ISU Athletics Director Larry Lyons said safety protocols and procedures have changed the way games are normally scheduled.

“Obviously, travel is a big part of it,” Lyons told WJBC’s Marc Strauss. “You want to reduce any exposure in travel. The testing component is becoming a really big part of it. For Division I, at a minimum, we are testing three times a week.”

On the men’s side, the game against Ohio State wasn’t on the books until 10 days beforehand, said Lyons. ISU’s game against Greenville Wednesday afternoon was announced earlier this week.

“It’s so untraditional what is going on in college basketball in terms of putting a schedule together,” Lyons said. “But our primary goal is that we keep everybody safe and healthy.”

Meanwhile, this is the final month for Lyons before he retires after more than 30 years in collegiate athletics. ISU has yet to name a new athletic director.

Neil Doyle can be reached at neil.doyle@cumulus.com

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