COVID-19 has made for an awkward start to college sports this year. For example, there are some conferences that are currently not having college football and planning on playing in the spring, while you have a few conferences continuing to play through the pandemic while setting up safety protocols. One conference that has decided not to play fall sports so far is the Ohio Valley Conference, home to the Tennessee State University (TSU) Tigers. While football season and all other fall sports have been delayed until the fall in the OVC, basketball recently got addressed by the NCAA.
Tennessee State University men’s basketball head coach Brian “Penny” Collins is one of many basketball coaches in the country that received the news recently that the college basketball season would be starting on November 25th. After finishing 9-9 in the conference and 18-15 overall last season, Collins is very optimistic about his team going into his third season as TSU men’s basketball coach. “The guys are working hard.” Collins explained, “we have a few guys banged up, but I am surprised at how far ahead we are right now.”
Along with the new season, optimism, and new players, there will be some differences. Tennessee State had the best season increase in attendance in the country from 2018-2019 to 2019-2020, but that will mean nothing this season, as they more than likely will not be able to pile in fans like last season. “That’s one thing I am disappointed about but is understandable due to Covid,” said Collins.
Nevertheless, the season must go on and Collins is getting his team prepared for what they will be facing this season. “What we have been doing in practice is trying to mimic what kind of environment it will be and trying to make our guys create the energy or create their own energy,” said Collins.
As far as the OVC season, Collins says the conference season is still slated to start on time, with that date being December 30th. There has been no mention of a shortened season or any other changes at all. As of right now, the OVC is still putting together their plan of things and that next step includes one important thing. Collins went on to explain, “as of right now, we are still waiting to find out the testing protocols.”
The Ohio Valley Conference will likely continue to do research and study things before making a final decision on what they will do in terms of protocols for player and coach safety and as of right now, there is no timetable on that decision.