MOUNTAIN BROOK, Alabama–As is the case with some other college basketball coaches in the Southeastern Conference and around the country, Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said he is in favor of expanding the schedule to include more competition for teams in the summer.
Auburn and other teams participated in summer exhibition tours outside the United States. Under current NCAA rules those summer games can take place only once every four years. In Auburn’s case the Tigers played three times in Israel, winning two out of three matchups in August.
“I think, that quite frankly, we should expand that August basketball period,” Pearl said on Wednesday at the SEC’s basketball media days event. “It is a real opportunity.
“If you look right now at what live television is doing in America (in August), football has not started yet,” Pearl said. “Hockey and basketball, that stuff is over. We have got baseball, we have got golf, we have got tennis. They (television networks) are looking for live programming.
“Why not have an August window of a few games whether it is here or internationally? I think it would be great. Tie it into some NIL (name, image and likeness)?opportunities and I think the networks would really enjoy it. It would be something sort of after the summer and before the fall.”
Tennessee’s coach, Rick Barnes, noted that he really likes the idea that is being discussed by college administrators at the national level and by coaches. “I personally wish that we had more exhibition games this time of year,” he said.
“If we want to take the NBA Summer League model for the summer, we should also think about what they do with their preseason because not only do we need it, I think referees need it,” Barnes said. “I think it would really help officiating. They could get more work in before we actually get into games because these early tournament games mean a lot. For some situations they’ve only had a game or two under their belt when that starts. Maybe that might be their first one.
“I think players would tell you, we all are more for playing games so I think, again, it’s good,” Barnes said. “I do. During the summer, I think I would probably use it in a way to let my coaches coach the game. Just like the format they have used in the NBA Summer League.”
“We are playing Gonzaga in an exhibition game in Texas in a couple of weeks,” Barnes said. “I wish we could play probably four preseason games. If it were up to me, to allow us to get that outside competition before we started. I think it would cut down on the grind of this time of year being in the gym.”
The SEC Network televised all three of Auburn’s games in Israel. Several other college teams, including Kentucky from the SEC, had overseas games televised in August.
Pearl said his team’s trip to Israel was a “great experience” for the players both educationally and with the basketball component of the trip that included one game vs. the Israel Under20 National Team, one game vs. an all-star squad featuring professional players and the other vs. the Israeli National Team.
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