Coach K says playing during pandemic doesn’t “feel right”

Legendary Duke University basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski criticized his sport’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday night, just weeks into the new season that’s already seen dozens of coronavirus-related game cancelations or delays. 

Following No. 10 ranked Duke’s loss to No. 6 Illinois, Krzyzewski was asked in a post-game news conference about playing basketball as cases around the U.S. continue to grow and is expected to get worse approaching the holidays. 

“I don’t think it feels right to anybody,” he said. “I mean everyone is concerned.”

Coach K, as he is known, then ripped leadership in NCAA basketball, which is governed by conference commissioners.

“We made an assessment,” he said. “I’m not sure who leads college basketball. It’s done by committee… Anything that’s led by committee is not agile in handling a situation.” 

“It wasn’t like well-planned,” he added. “We were going to start November 25. That was made without knowing where the vaccine was, how many cases. Basically, it was more a mentality of get as many games in as possible. And I would just like for the safety, the mental health and the physical health of players and staff to reassess where we’re at.”


Coach K Duke vs Illinois Postgame Press Conference by
Carolina Blitz on
YouTube

He stopped short of calling for the season to be shut down, but urged the league to “reassess” the situation as virus-related deaths continue to mount and vaccines are expected to be deployed this month. Krzyzewski implied the NCAA is focused on revenue generated from March Madness and less about how it arrives to that point. 

“I know the NCAA is worried about the end game,” he said. “They’re not as worried about the game we’re playing right now.”

Krzyzewski admitted that while his comments could be interpreted as frustration after a loss, he expressed concern over players who won’t get to see their families over the holidays. 

“A lot of kids aren’t going to be able to go home for Christmas,” he said. “It’s probably a time where they should, for mental health. But we’re just plowing through this.”

Universities nationwide have been rocked by the coronavirus pandemic.  While some schools are moving mountains to get in football and basketball seasons, non-revenue generating sports have been cut.