The 2020-21 men’s and women’s college basketball seasons can begin on November 25, the NCAA Division I Council said Wednesday.
The council, after its vote, said no games or scrum shows could be held before that date, which is the day before Thanksgiving.
“The new season start date near Thanksgiving offers the optimal opportunity to successfully launch the basketball season,” said Dan Gavitt, NCAA senior vice president for basketball. “This is a kind of grand compromise and unified approach that focuses on the health and safety of student-athletes competing for the 2021 Division I basketball championships.”
For the past two weeks, discussions have centered around waiting until the November 21
“By Thanksgiving week, November 25, 76 percent of all Division I schools will have completed the fall semester completely or cleared the general student body for in-person education,” Gavitt said in the webinar.
With general students at home throughout December and early January, it provides at least a six-week window for the start of the college basketball season.
Division Council I also changed the maximum number of games a team can play, as well as the minimum number of games that must be considered for NCAA league selection. The maximum number of matches has been reduced by four, with teams allowed to play 24 or 25 matches plus a multi-team event. The minimum number of games was reduced by 50% to 13. There was a recommendation by the men’s and women’s basketball committees to play a minimum of four non-conference games.
Women’s teams can schedule 23 games, plus a multi-team event or 25 games without a multi-team event.
Full preseason workouts can begin on October 14, with 30 workouts allowed in the 42 days leading up to the start of the season. The council also approved a transition period that allows teams to participate in strength, conditioning, and skill training for up to 12 hours per week between September 21 and October 13.
The season was initially supposed to start on November 10 with the participation of the men’s Champions Classic Duke, Michigan State, Kansas and Kentucky. It is unclear when or how the season start events and non-conference matches scheduled for the first two weeks of the season will take place. Bubbles and “controlled environments,” as Gavitt called them last week, are under consideration for a series of non-conference tournaments, sources told ESPN.
The November 25th date is just a guideline for the start date, as conferences and individual schools will make changes to fit the Division I Council plan structure for the season. Gavitt said the NCAA is still planning for the NCAA tournament to proceed as planned with 68 teams and 14 venues in March and April.
The D1 Council also extended the deadline for recruiting until January 1. There has been a dead period in effect since March, with no official campus visits or evaluation periods allowed during that time. This extension, however, means that the first signing periods in basketball (November 11-18) and football (starts December 16) will occur during the dead period.
“While the Council recognized and appreciates the growing desire to resume in-person recruitment by select associations of coaches, the Council members ultimately concluded that the primary concern right now must be the protection of current student-athletes in the our campuses, ”said Penn’s board chairman and athletic director. M. Grace Calhoun said. “We encourage our coaches to interact with potential student-athletes virtually during this time period.”