ESPN has scrapped its plan to host an NBA-like bubble concept for eight of its men’s college basketball events in Orlando this season, affecting part of the Belmont men’s basketball schedule.
The Bruins were supposed to have competed in an eight-team field along with Auburn, Boise State, Gonzaga, Michigan State, Saint Louis, Siena and Xavier in the 2020 Orlando Invitational Thanksgiving week at the HP Field House Nov. 26-29.
“ESPN has informed us it will be canceling its basketball multi-team events (MTE) for the 2020-21 season,” Belmont Athletic Director Scott Corley said in a statement. “While disappointed by this news, we are understanding,and appreciative of ESPN’s efforts. Coach (Casey) Alexander and I continue to dialogue with other programs to complete our schedule for the upcoming season.”
ESPN stated its decision to cancel the events was due to several school’s concerns regarding COVID-19 health and safety protocols for student- athletes competing in the bubble.
The other tournaments that were canceled include the Champions Classic, Myrtle Beach Invitational, NIT Season Tip-Off, Wooden Legacy, Diamond Head Classic, the Jimmy V Classic and the Charleston Classic, the latter two of which both were to have included Tennessee.
"ESPN Events set out to create a protected environment for teams to participate in early-season events in Orlando," an official statement from ESPN said. "Based on certain challenges surrounding testing protocols, we opted to resume these tournaments during the 2021-22 season."
The plan was for the bubble to run from Nov. 25 to early December. Reports have surfaced that both the Champions Classic and the Jimmy V Classic will still be played at different locations this season, while the other six tournaments will resume in 2021.
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