Update: SWAC basketball slated to start after New Years

Mason Smith, Sports and Intramurals Editor

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The idea of the Southwestern Athletic Conference moving sports to the spring semester was a combination of hope and fear; hope being that the coronavirus pandemic will be under control enough to play sports, and fear that it’s only delaying the inevitable of postponing or canceling sports altogether.

Today, we are one step closer to returning to the hardwood as the SWAC recently released the conference schedule. The 18-game schedule is set to start after New Years, with the first set of games taking place January 2nd, per an announcement on the official conference website.

The games will be played on Saturdays and Mondays, with the only exception being  Thursday, March 4th. The conference tournament is set to take place on March 9th, 12th and 13th.

The regular season will still begin the week of Thanksgiving, where the men’s opponents will be known soon and the women start their season on November 28th against Georgia Southern University — those being considered non-conference games with teams that aren’t members of the SWAC. The Sports Administrative Committee (SAC) also opted to reduce the number of Division I games required for playoff selection to 13.

With that being said, the first conference opponents for Alabama State University (ASU) will be the Grambling State and Jackson State Tigers, both to be played at the Dunn-Oliver Acadome in Montgomery. COVID-19 will likely still be a concern, so there is a chance that games may be postponed or even canceled. That is why the SAC decided to keep the number of conference games at 18, which allows for maximum flexibility should adjustments arise.

Basketball will be the first sport to officially compete on ASU’s campus since March 2020, and the athletic director, Jennifer Lynne Williams, was asked about that on this week’s “Live in the Hive” podcast.

“I’m excited,” she said regarding basketball, kicking off in less than a month. “You just miss seeing activity, you miss seeing our teams compete.”

Plans and protocols have been discussed for months, but now the planning will be put into action starting with men’s and women’s hoops.

“They’re the first,” Williams said. “They are going to show us how we move and operate in this pandemic…they are gonna kind of set the standard of what we’re gonna be doing.”

The fans will see the “new normal” starting the week of Thanksgiving, and they will see if college sports are feasible in the current climate.