Morgantown, West Virginia – In a few days, the West Virginia Mountaineers are scheduled to get on a plane and fly into one of the worst place in the world during a worldwide pandemic.

No one on the planet wants to see the Mountaineers play basketball more than me and it’s very difficult for me to say this, but West Virginia University should really consider pulling out of the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

The tournament – scheduled to run from November 25 – 27 – initially had a tremendous draw featuring Duke, Ohio State, Texas A&M, Creighton, Dayton, but several teams have opted out and the draw is now watered down with South Dakota State, Northern Iowa, Saint Mary’s and Utah State being added.

Remember, the Crossover Classic was originally the Battle 4 Atlantis and was set to take place in the Bahamas.  However, when that tournament was cancelled, organizers searched for a safe alternative.

At the time, South Dakota seemed like a perfect location.  However, it is now considered a hot spot and one of the worst places in the world to hold an event at this time.  In addition, the CDC has recommended that people not travel during Thanksgiving break.

While any competition would be meaningful for the Mountaineers right now, is traveling to South Dakota – currently the 2nd highest COVID rate per capita in the world at 7,883 cases per 100,000 people – really worth it?  

Putting our student-athletes at risk to beat the likes of South Dakota State, Saint Mary’s, etc., just seems irresponsible.  What do all of these other top-tier schools that have opted out of the tournament see that West Virginia does not?

West Virginia has a very great opportunity to compete for the national championship this season and, as Bob Huggins said, “winning it all will not necessarily be the best team in the country but rather, the team that handles this pandemic the best.”

Taking a team into the hottest of hot spots for COVID in the country is not “handling it well.”  It’s unnecessarily putting the team and its players at risk, which could lead to an outbreak on the team.  An outbreak on the team could literally knock the team out of commission for weeks, which would significantly hurt its chances later in the year.

Unfortunately, the best option is for West Virginia to pull out of the Crossover Classic, to stay healthy, be smart about this and to prepare for bigger and better things during the season.