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ESPN Cancelling Orlando Bubble, Affecting Three Big Ten Teams

Illinois, MSU, and PSU are affected, two others pulled out already.

Iowa v Illinois Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

ESPN officially announced yesterday that their plans to hold The Charleston Classic, Myrtle Beach Invitational, NIT Season Tip-Off, Wooden Legacy, Orlando Invitational, and Diamond Head Classic at its Wide World of Sports property at Disney World have been cancelled. The network is still working on plans to host the Champions Classic and Jimmy V Classic at other locations.

ESPN’s official statement hinted at issues around testing protocols being the primary reason for the chance. In it, the network stated:

“ESPN Events set out to create a protected environment for teams to participate in early-season events in Orlando. Based on certain challenges surrounding testing protocols, we opted to resume these tournaments during the 2021-22 season.”

The decision impacts a number of teams from the Big Ten, and a few others had already cancelled their participation in the events. The full list and corresponding events is as follows:

Penn State is the only team at this point left who is now left with no early season events at all. The Nittany Lions were still listed as participating in The Charleston Classic. Among the other teams still listed as participating were Florida State, Houston, Oklahoma State, Seton Hall, Tennessee, and VCU.

Rutgers had previously announced they would be pulling out of the Jimmy V Classic earlier this month, and Illinois was immediately reported to take Rutgers place facing Baylor in the event. That is now to be determined as ESPN looks for an alternative location.

Michigan State is in a similar boat to both Illinois and Penn State. The Spartans were still scheduled to participate in the Orlando Invitational with teams such as Auburn, Gonzaga, and Xavier. However, like Illinois, their matchup against Duke in the Champions Classic is still being planned for as ESPN searches for a new venue for the annual event.

Finally, Nebraska previously announced the team’s withdrawal from the Myrtle Beach Classic. Their own “Golden Window” tournament in Lincoln is now up to 11 teams, with the goal remaining 16 total.

Two other tournaments connected to ESPN involving Big Ten teams are still scheduled. The Maui Invitational has been moved to Asheville, North Carolina with the Indiana Hoosiers listed as opening against Providence. The Ohio State Buckeyes are still participating in the “Crossover Classic,” previously known as the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. After it was moved from the Bahamas to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the event was renamed. Both events are televised by ESPN, but owned and managed by other entities.