Planning trips for college basketball teams can be complicated. Flights and hotels have to be booked, rental buses, meal plans. Schedules have to work around practice and games.
Planning between the Kovid-19 epidemic becomes increasingly more difficult.
Coaches and administrators have to consider ventilation systems, vendor testing protocols, shifting of state requirements, airport policy, bus layouts, and food service options.
“You’re trying to balance logistics, but you’re also trying to balance a budget and health and safety in an epidemic,” said Anthony Ruta, director of Arkansas basketball. “It’s not always easy.”
The NCAA set the college basketball start date as November 25. When the announcement was made in mid-September, the coaches scrambled to fill the schedule. 10 days away from the start of the season, with some of those schedules still not finalized.
There was another, more complex one within that melee.
It is another thing to have a schedule set, it must be lowered through the minitu to work.
The epidemic has put enormous financial pressure on athletic departments, sending several million dollars into the red. Staying within the travel budget has become even more important.
The preferred method of epidemic travel would be to take a charter flight for the social distance aspect, but smaller schools do not have the finances to do so even under regular conditions. The economic hit of the epidemic shrinks the charter pool even more.
Charter or commercial, there is still much to worry about. Testing protocols at various airports should be identified ahead of time. Finding a place to spread in the terminal becomes a priority. There is also concern about close contact in the airport for other passengers from TSA personnel and gate agents.
Even bus rides, the preferred mode of epidemic travel when possible, are fraught with concerns.
Coaches setting up the trip have to ask about the filtration system, testing protocols for staff and the internal layout to allow players and coaches to stretch. If the travel party becomes too large, perhaps a second bus will be required.
Now it is not asking about bus types and setting a schedule. Coaches need to know what questions to ask to keep their travel party safe and avoid surprises on the road.
“Nothing but people have different questions for you to ask,” said Wisconsin director of basketball operations Mark Vandewatering. “Where was your bus driver on the road for the last few weeks? Who are they driving? Have they been tested recently? What is their protocol? I think they are going to be wearing masks the whole time, but what else are they doing to assure the safety of the team they are transporting? “
Getting there can be half the battle.
Finding hotels with the best epidemic protocols becomes a top consideration with price and proximity. Detecting room work and maintaining social distance is part of the equation.
The meal plan is no longer simply deciding whether to go to a restaurant or a meal brought to a living room in a hotel.
Coaches want to know the protocol for vendors bringing food. Maybe they ask vendors to serve food, so players and coaches are not sharing spoons. Perhaps they have their meal ready ahead of time, so the traveling crew can take it back to their room.
“How they are implementing these protocols is major,” Vandeverating said. “What we’re trying to do is usually the same, but it will look different, so how are they going to accommodate the changes that we should be making?”
The key is being flexible.
The epidemic has spread since the NCAA tournament was canceled in early March, so coaches and players have learned how to navigate the ever-changing flow. They know that whatever rules are in place today, they can change tomorrow.
“We’ve been around a long time in Kovid’s period, where a lot of what we do has to be accommodated,” Marquette coach Steve Wojcowski said. “So there is a long queue of things and things where we have to adjust, to make travel adjustments and follow different guidelines that we don’t normally have to follow. Those are things we cannot control. Those are the things we need to do. “
Make plans, expect to make amends. This is the rule for travel planning – and about everything else during this epidemic.
(This story is published from a wire agency feed without textual modifications.)
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