Since then, the five conferences have met almost every Friday for 60 to 90 minutes to plan for what feels like a new event. “We’re all rewriting our handbooks,” said John Sullivan, the assistant commissioner from the Mountain West.
The questions have seemed endless.
How many spectators are allowed at each venue by local health officials? When will coronavirus tests be administered? (The winner of the San Jose State and Wyoming game on Wednesday night must return to the arena at 5:45 a.m. local time Thursday for tests before that day’s noon quarterfinal, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.) How many press members and N.B.A. scouts will attend and where will they sit? How will teams get to the arena? (The Pac-12 women, Big West and WAC teams will walk out of hotels and through parking lots to auxiliary arena entrances to avoid walking through casinos where they are staying.)
Where do conferences find people to mop the floor? (Stanford’s football coach, David Shaw, was conscripted at a Cardinal home game.) Where will teams practice? (The WAC found two courts at an area convention center.) And if a conference winner has to drop out of the N.C.A.A. tournament, who will replace it?
“The first thing an administrator will ask you when you tell him something is ‘what is everybody else doing?’” said Loghry, the WAC official. “At first we were bouncing ideas off each other, but then we’d get into the weeds and pretty soon it was sports information directors, marketing, entire staffs were on it. Somebody would say, ‘what are you doing about X?’ and you’d think, ‘oh, God, I didn’t think about that,’ and it would lead to our next week’s to-do list.”
In one of those spit-balling sessions, somebody asked if the basketballs were cleaned by dunking them in a disinfectant solution. Since a basketball’s composition naturally absorbs moisture — allowing them to become slightly tacky as the game moves along — immersing the balls would have left them waterlogged and unusable.
The solution, they learned, was to wipe the balls with a dry towel, then again with a towel dampened by a soapy solution (never alcohol!) and then clean them off with another dry towel.
That could be said of many details from the pandemic playbook that will be put to the test over the next month, when college basketball’s winners and losers won’t just be determined by the scoreboard, but by coronavirus tests.