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Tad Boyle not happy with CU Buffs’ NCAA-mandated work week

After off day, Buffs plan to hit sand running in Virgin Islands

University of Colorado Boulder's Head Coach ...
Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer
University of Colorado Boulder’s Head Coach Tad Boyle talks to the team during the game against University of Maine at CU Events Center in Boulder on Monday, Nov. 15, 2021.

With a lengthy road trip on deck, the Colorado men’s basketball team took a day off on Tuesday.

Buffaloes head coach Tad Boyle was less than pleased about it.

That’s not to say CU’s leader doesn’t recognize the need to refuel after improving to 3-0 with a Monday night rout of Maine, and with a three-games-in-four-days run on the way at the Paradise Jam in the US Virgin Islands.

However, given the structure of the Buffs’ schedule and a trip that takes CU three time zones to the east, Boyle vented some frustration regarding the NCAA’s mandated day-off rules following his team’s 90-46 win against Maine. Basketball teams are required to allow players one off day per week, and travel days cannot count as off days.

That’s why most teams return home immediately after road games, so the competition day and travel day can be condensed into a single work day. But since the Buffs needed to be off on Tuesday, and leave for the Virgin Islands early on Wednesday — making it an “on” day — Boyle felt compelled to schedule an immediate practice upon arrival in St. Thomas instead of letting the Buffs check out the surf.

“The NCAA, in their infinite wisdom, (has) non-coaches and nobody who has played the game on these committees that make these rules, because they don’t trust coaches,” Boyle said. “We have to take (Tuesday) off because we can’t take Wednesday off because it’s a travel day. That’s the new rule.

“It sounds good. But guess what? If we have to take (Tuesday) off, we’ll take (Tuesday) off. But we have to get up at 3:30 in the morning on Wednesday. Three-thirty in the morning. Then we travel and we’re going to get to St. Thomas, and now we have to practice because we have to prepare for Southern Illinois. So they’re making our team practice after the longest day of travel you can have. It makes no sense.”

Granted, some of Boyle’s concerns might have been alleviated had CU’s schedule been structured differently. Take, for instance, Colorado State, a rival on the opposite side of the Paradise Jam bracket and a possible third-game foe for the Buffs. Like CU, the Rams played on opening night on Tuesday, Nov. 9, defeating Oral Roberts. CSU posted wins again on Friday (Arkansas-Pine Bluff) and Sunday (Peru State), allowing more flexibility ahead of the Virgin Islands trip than the Buffs’ Saturday-Monday game schedule.

A similar setup would have prevented the schedule crunch that has drawn Boyle’s ire. However, constructing a serviceable nonconference schedule isn’t nearly as simple as picking the dates and filling in whatever opponent a team can find. The Pac-12 has more stringent scheduling guidelines than CSU’s Mountain West Conference, meaning setting up a particular date-friendly matchup against an NAIA program like Peru State, or one of the regional Division II teams, was off the table for CU.

Regardless, the Buffs will hit the gym instead of the sand upon arrival in the Virgin Islands to begin preparations for their Friday opening-round date against Southern Illinois (6 p.m. MT, ESPN3).

“I asked every one of our seniors. Here’s the scenario: Would you rather practice Tuesday and then not have to practice when we get to St. Thomas? Or would you rather take Tuesday off and practice when we get there,” Boyle said. “They said, ‘Coach, let’s just practice Tuesday.’

“There’s no coaches on those committees. There’s administrators and conference commissioners and assistant commissioners that don’t know what the heck it’s like to run a college basketball program. And it pisses me off. It’s wrong and we’ve got to live with it.”