Orlando Event Off for Aztecs as Schedule Shuffle Continues

San Diego State is among the dozens of teams impacted by ESPN's decision to no longer host the early season games.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Last week Brian Dutcher said he wasn't ready to release San Diego State's non-conference schedule. Today brought more uncertainty about what the early season holds for the Aztecs and a number of other programs.

It also brought a report of an exciting matchup that could be on its way to Viejas Arena.

ESPN will not host multi-team events at its Wide World of Sports property in Orlando. The initial concept came about in hopes of maintaining the schedule of early season non-conference tournaments seen every year across college basketball. The eight events, of which ESPN holds the broadcast rights, were going to be held in a bubble in Orlando - where the NBA successfully played out its postseason.

More than two dozen programs were scheduled to take part in the events, including the Aztecs.

A spokesperson from SDSU told NBC 7 that they have been working toward different options for some time. Recently they have looked into scheduling games that require less travel. As a result, they don't feel that they are significantly impacted by today's news.

Perhaps that's because they're working on an event of their own.

There are multiple reports that San Diego State is in talks with UCLA to bring the Bruins and two mid-major programs to Viejas Arena. No date has been set for when the teams would congregate in San Diego

Like many programs, the Aztecs have not even announced their season opener yet. Forward Matt Mitchell said the uncertainty around their schedule isn't bothering the tea.

"We can't focus on who we're gonna play, what day we're gonna play on. We just know we have to be ready," Mitchell said Monday. "This team is willing to play anybody, anywhere, anytime. I believe we'll be there and we'll be ready to put on a show."

Currently the Aztecs have only announced their Mountain West schedule, which consists of 18 games beginning December 29. Dutcher told reporters that they have a Pac-12 game lined up, as well as series against a couple WCC teams.

Less than a week ago it looked like SDSU had its opening games mapped out.

"It appears we're going to be in Orlando," Dutcher said last Tuesday. "I don't want to release who we're playing yet, that's still a work in progress as teams continue to decide if they're going or not. But if we get the teams I think we're gonna get it will be a great way to start the season."

Prior to the pandemic San Diego State was scheduled to take part in the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu. According to college basketball analyst Jeff Goodman, the Aztecs were recently set to participate in a pod with Saint Mary’s, Missouri, and UCF in Orlando.

According to The Athletic, ESPN's decision was made 30 days out from the scheduled start of the season in hopes of leaving programs enough time to solidify games elsewhere.

Disagreements in protocols and safety measures between ESPN and participating schools prompted the decision.

“At the end of the day our bias was toward safety and making sure that what we pulled off was in the best interests of the sport," Vice President of ESPN Events Clint Overby told The Athletic. "In the absence of those things, we decided we’re better off letting schools do their own thing.”

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