The Dalton State College basketball team will play a delayed schedule beginning next month, including 12 home games at Bandy Gymnasium, head coach Alex Ireland announced Thursday.
The Roadrunners will start the 2020-21 season a month later than usual because of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that is affecting collegiate athletics across the country.
"In what has been a very hectic and unpredictable year, we are thrilled to return to some degree of normalcy with the return of college basketball," said Ireland. "This year's schedule features a tough array of opponents, both in SSAC (Southern States Athletic Conference) and non-conference play, and presents a great challenge to this new group of Roadrunners."
This year's schedule has 23 games with 14 SSAC contests mixed with nine non-conference matchups. Of the 23 games, 12 are at home at Bandy Gymnasium.
"It is very exciting to return to Bandy Gymnasium, the home of the Dalton Junior College Roadrunners," added Ireland. "The Dalton Junior College Roadrunners ruled the roost in Death Valley, Georgia 30720, and we look forward to the opportunity to carry on the legacy of what Coach Melvyn Ottinger did in Bandy Gym many years ago. We love playing in Mashburn Arena, but this season offers us the unique chance to return to our roots in 2020-21 and honor the Roadrunners that came before us."
The Roadrunners have played home games in Mashburn Arena at the Dalton Convention Center, which allows for more seating than the Roadrunners' on-campus gym.
While home games will be played at Bandy Gym, they will be played with limited seating. Approximately 40 seats (20% of permanent seating capacity) will be allocated to player and coach guests. All guests must wear a mask and adhere to the safety protocols of the college while attending.
"Our Bandy attendance policy is consistent with our college's COVID-19 prevention strategies," said Jon Jaudon, executive director of Athletics and External Relations. "We want to do everything we can to protect the health and safety of our students, employees and guests. Our Roadrunner sport teams, and our opponents will benefit by this strategy. Doing all we can to ensure the completion of our season is of paramount importance. Thank you for understanding and continuing to support your Roadrunners by joining the live stream we will be offering free of charge."
"We are very disappointed that we will not get to see a full house of Roadrunner fans supporting us this season," Ireland said. "There is no one in America that wants to pack Bandy Gym with fans more than I do, and there is no fan base better than Roadrunner Nation. However, the times that we are living in make that impossible. We will sorely miss our fans, and hope that we can make them proud as they cheer on the Roadrunners from home while watching our livestream."
Dalton State starts out on the road with two games on Nov. 27 and 28. They will play in the Lou Cunningham Classic hosted by Campbellsville University (Kentucky).
The SSAC schedule starts in January, while three more non-conference contests will be sprinkled in during January and February. The SSAC voted for an even split of seven home and seven road games this season.
The SSAC Tournament will follow in Montgomery, Alabama, beginning Feb. 24. The new 64-team format for the NAIA Tournament begins on March 12 with opening round matchups. The opening round regionals will determine who advances to play for a National Championship in Kansas City, Missouri, starting March 18.
Schedules may continue to change periodically throughout the duration of the pandemic. For up-to-date information about the status of games and matches, please refer to the Dalton State athletic website (dsroadrunners.com) and all Dalton State social media sites on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.