The Patriot League announced Thursday it is waiving the rule that required teams to play 12 conference games to be eligible for the postseason tournament.

The conference also put in waivers to the NCAA to allow the men’s and women’s teams that won’t meet the minimum 13-game criteria that’s required to play in the NCAA Tournament. Bucknell’s team have only played eight games.

“It’s been wild, we were fortunate we got games in early.” Woodruff said. “I’d say in my 20-plus years of coaching, I’ve had some very difficult individual moments and situations, but never had a season as challenging as this.”

It could most impact the undefeated Bucknell’s women’s squad, which had every game in February canceled because the team has been on pause for the coronavirus. The Bison (8-0) are one of two unbeaten teams left in Division I basketball – joining Cal Baptist, which is transitioning from Division II. Coach Trevor Woodruff’s team last played on Jan. 31 against Lehigh before positive tests and contact tracing forced them to postpone the final eight games of the regular season.

“We had a positive case following the Lehigh series back at the end of January and that put us down for two weeks,” the coach said. “We came out of quarantine when the entire campus was on pause. That shut us down for another week because there were no athletics allowed.”

Just as the Bison cleared that quarantine period, another positive test shut down the team again.

“We’ve had a hard time having more than three, four or five folks able to do anything,” Woodruff said. “We won’t be at full strength the rest of the season.”

The Bison should be able to practice this weekend for the first time as a full group since Jan. 29. Bucknell’s next game will be in the Patriot League tournament.

Woodruff is in his second year at the school after going 24-6 last year and winning the league by four games. They never got to play the conference tournament because of the virus shutdown.

“I just want our team, our players, our seniors in particular, to have a chance to play it out. Win or lose, I want them to be able to finish it on the floor,” Woodruff said. “They’ve done everything they can. Won the league last year by a record margin. They didn’t get to finish that out. They haven’t been beaten again and we’re one positive test from not being able to finish it again.”

INDIANAPOLIS WILL relax coronavirus restrictions on the city’s bars and restaurants starting next week ahead of the upcoming Big Ten and NCAA men’s basketball tournaments.

The changes will allow bars to operate at 50% capacity instead of 25% starting Monday, while restaurants will see their indoor restaurant capacity increase from 50% to 75%. Bars, restaurants and music venues will also be able to close two hours later, at 2 a.m., instead of at midnight.

Mayor Joe Hogsett says the capacity and time changes were prompted by drops in the city’s COVID-19 cases and its coronavirus positivity rate, and not due to the upcoming Big Ten and NCAA men’s basketball tournaments.

“I want to make it clear though that these decisions were in no way driven by March Madness,” Hogsett said.

GEORGIA TECH: The NCAA has overturned scholarship and recruiting limitations placed on the Georgia Tech men’s basketball program in 2019.

The decision from the NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee overturned the reduction of one scholarship per year for four years. It also restores Georgia Tech’s freedom to schedule official recruiting trips in conjunction with home games.

The NCAA’s Committee on Infractions will reconsider the scholarship sanctions, which have not started while under appeal, at a date that has not been announced. The recruiting sanctions were vacated.

Last year, Georgia Tech agreed to miss the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament after withdrawing its appeal of a postseason ban for 2020.

The penalties were the result of the NCAA finding major recruiting violations were committed by former Georgia Tech assistant coach Darryl LaBarrie as well as Coach Josh Pastner’s former friend, Ron Bell. Pastner was not directly named in the findings.

By withdrawing the appeal last year, the Yellow Jackets remain eligible for postseason play this season.

MAAC: Friends and relatives of players will be allowed to attend the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference basketball tournament in limited numbers next month, but no tickets will be sold to the public, the organization said Friday.

In keeping with recently loosened restrictions on indoor sporting events issued by Gov. Phil Murphy, the MAAC said it will allow “a limited number” of friends and family to be present for the men’s and women’s games at Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall from March 8-13 in Atlantic City.

The conference did not give a limit on attendees, but new state regulations limit in-person attendance at indoor sporting events in venues with 5,000 or more seats to 10% of capacity.

ACC: The Atlantic Coast Conference will expand use of KINEXON SafeTag contact tracing devices by equipping players, coaches and Tier 1 personnel for its upcoming men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

SafeTags measure proximity between users to provide school medical officials with contact tracing data when an individual tests positive for COVID-19. All 15 ACC schools used the devices inside team facilities during the regular season to mitigate the spread of the virus. Athletes also had the tags sewn into jerseys or tucked into socks during games.

An ACC release stated that the technology identified several high-risk close contacts of a positive case within the league. They were quarantined and later tested positive, limiting the spread of the virus.

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