Conference basketball schedules unveiled by Big West


Clarissa Alderete

Redshirt junior guard De’Monte Buckingham going for a basket during the Homecoming Basketball game at the Icardo Center on Feb. 29


Progress toward a college basketball season continued when the Big West Conference unveiled its 2020-21 schedule on Wednesday.

On the heels of the NCAA’s announcement last month that Division I men’s and women’s basketball teams can open their seasons starting on Nov. 25.

Cal State Bakersfield has not finalized its preseason schedule, but the Roadrunners are slated to start its inaugural Big West season — albeit somewhat modified — against UC Davis on Dec. 27. The men’s squad will host the Aggies for games on back-to-back nights, while the women’s team will travel to Davis for a pair of games on the same nights.

“The Big West Board of Directors did due diligence in examining all of the factors involved in a safe and responsible return to competition, with basketball being the pilot moving forward,” said Big West Commissioner Dan Butterly in a news release. “The Big West Conference understands the need for consistent and multi-layered levels of testing protocols that put safety at the forefront for our member institutions. Cognizant of state and county restrictions, and the NCAA Core Principles of Resocialization of Collegiate Basketball, we feel we have a plan in place that will adhere to those mandates.”

As part of a safety protocol during the COVID-19 pandemic, the 11-team conference scheduled two-game series at the same location in the hopes of creating a safer environment with less travel for the athletes, coaches and staff. The traditional home-and-home round-robin schedule has been altered so that teams will instead play the same opponent on consecutive days at one site, with most games taking place on Friday and Saturday.

“We are excited for the season ahead, especially for it being our first as members of the Big West,” said CSUB men’s coach Rod Barnes. “We are thankful to both the Big West and CSUB leadership for making health and safety their priority. Our Big West opener in December is going to be a huge moment for our program and we’re going to work hard to be ready for that day.”

Guided by the California State University Chancellor’s Office and local health authorities, the Roadrunners will not permit spectators at the games for the safety of players, coaches and staff.   

Though spectators will not be permitted at the Icardo Center, fans will be able to follow the action via live broadcasts on the ESPN family of networks.

CSUB President Lynnette Zelezny, who sits on the Big West Conference Board of Directors, welcomed the emphasis on safety.

“I am so pleased for our scholar-athletes and all the fans of Roadrunner basketball that we will resume competition — and in a new conference,” Zelezny said. “It has been a time of uncertainty as we chart a new course forward, but we are now able to start a new day in a new way. I feel confident that every decision made by the Big West and CSUB has put the safety of our scholar-athletes and all others ahead of any other consideration.”

Each team will contest the schedule over an 11-week period with one bye week built in. Games will not be rescheduled should a team need to quarantine during the season.

The schedules mirror one another, with the men’s and women’s teams playing the same opponent at opposite venues. The new conference includes games against: Long Beach State, Cal Poly, Hawaii, UC Riverside, Cal State Fullerton, UC Irvine, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Northridge.

“We are ecstatic about the huge step forward today’s announcement brings for our scholar-athletes, coaches, and staff,” said Dr. Kenneth “Ziggy” Siegfried, CSUB’s director of athletics. “We are so thankful for the careful thought and planning put into this schedule by Commissioner Butterly, President Zelezny, and her fellow members of the Big West Board of Directors. We can’t wait to see our `Runners playing games again and we will continue to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved.”

Since NCAA’s Sept. 16 announcement about the start of the Division I season, the Roadrunner basketball teams have been limited to small-group workouts. Things figured to ramp up in the next week. CSUB’s full, finalized basketball schedules, contingent on local and state health restrictions, will be released in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, the Big West’s 12-week schedule will go through February 27, with the conference tournament running March 10-13 at the Honda Center in Anaheim.