Iona coach Rick Pitino says NCAA should consider pushing college basketball season to January

Rick Pitino wants college basketball officials to consider a later start as the coronavirus pandemic continues to complicate plans for the return of college sports this year.

Pitino, the two-time NCAA champion who was hired in March as Iona's new head coach, tweeted Wednesday that college basketball should start in January and teams should only play league games in hopes of "getting things under control" with COVID-19.

It's an idea that has floated around college basketball circles in recent weeks, as most of the headlines about college sports have centered on college football.

"I could probably be talked into it if that is best to possibly complete a year," one prominent Division I head coach said about Pitino's proposal. "But he's got a new team. He and all [coaches] with lots of turnover need preseason time, which has eluded us all."

The Ivy League is considering a plan that could involve playing football as early as late September or as late as April with a conference-only slate. It will decide on that on July 8.

Power Five conference officials have also considered an altered football season amid this unprecedented climate.

College basketball coaches have mostly stayed in the background and relied on the luxury of time as college football coaches and powerbrokers continue to put their energy behind the 2020 season. But the conversations are ongoing.

When asked about Pitino's proposal, one Division I head coach said he'd co-sign on an even later start with a conference-only schedule.

"I actually think March 1," he said.

Another coach, however, thinks it's too early to know.

"I wouldn't want to make that decision until we see how things go with football in September," he said. "Hopefully things go well with the NBA, MLB, etc., in July and August."

Pitino, who is facing a Level II charge of failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance at Louisville following an NCAA investigation, was a controversial hire by the MAAC school, which must wait to find out if its new head coach will face penalties.

His idea about the college basketball season, however, isn't something other coaches haven't already considered.

"That's a logical assumption," one Division I head coach said. "Because a lot of people think we need to wait for a vaccine."