Big East thinking if campuses aren't open sports is a no go

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FILE - At left, in a March 12, 2020, file photo, Big East Conference Commissioner Val Ackerman speaks to reporters in New York. At right, in a Dec. 4, 2018, file photo, Ohio State athletics director Gene Smith answers questions during a news conference in Columbus, Ohio. The NCAA announced Wednesday, April 29, 2020, that its Board of Governors supports a plan that gives athletes the ability to cash in on their names, images and likenesses as never before and without involvement from the association, schools or conferences. The board on Monday and Tuesday, April 27-28, 2020, reviewed detailed recommendations put forth by a working group led by Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith and Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman. (AP Photo/File)

The presidents of the 11 members of the Big East Conference are leaning toward not allowing sports to be played at schools this season unless their campuses are open.

Commissioner Val Ackerman disclosed the thinking of the presidents on Friday in a wide-ranging virtual interview with members of the media about the fallout on the conference from the coronavirus pandemic.

While no deadlines have been set, Ackerman said the presidents indicated a late June/early July deadline for fall sports, and possibly a Sept. 1 deadline for winter sports, when basketball is played. The conference is considered a basketball power.

It is conceivable the league would play with some members not participating.

Ackerman said there are hybrid scenarios that could change things, such as a campus opening late.

On other topics, Ackerman said the league mitigated the financial loss from being forced to cancel its year-end men's basketball tournament at Madison Square Garden because it had insurance against the pandemic under a policy that also covered terrorism and other unexpected occurrences.

The Big East was forced to cancel its annual men’s conference tournament on March 12 at halftime of the first of four scheduled games that day because of the escalation in COVID-19 cases. Ackerman had no second thoughts about deciding to play the game that day, saying city health officials, the league’s board and senior medical personnel from the NCAA also backed the choice that morning. Ackerman said the league has had event cancellation insurance for years. Many other conferences have similar policies for their major events.

In the past two months, Ackerman said the league has talked to its presidents, coaches, doctors and the NCAA about the future and building a playbook for it.