While NCAA Division I conferences are each working through their various football schedules, the national college basketball plan came into picture Wednesday.
Wednesday’s NCAA press release noted that the Division I Council has approved starting the college basketball season Nov. 25, pushing it back two weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The new season start date near the Thanksgiving holiday provides the optimal opportunity to successfully launch the basketball season,” NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt said in the release. “It is a grand compromise of sorts and a unified approach that focuses on the health and safety of student-athletes competing towards the 2021 Division I basketball championships.”
The decision followed recommendations from the NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Oversight Committees, who found that pushing the season back slightly will ensure more of a bubble environment on campus.
“At least three-quarters of Division I institutions will have either concluded their fall terms or moved remaining instruction and exams online creating a more controlled and less populated campus environment that may reduce the risk of COVID-19,” the committees said in their recommendation.
Games were originally scheduled to begin Nov. 10. Now, practice can begin Oct. 14, with teams being allowed to hold 30 practices in a 42-day window. During the practice period, players can work out up to 20 hours per week — and four hours per day. They must have at least one off day each week.
Division I men’s basketball teams have three scheduling options — a 24-game regular season plus up to three games in a multi-team event, a 25-game regular season plus up to two additional games in a multi-team event, and a 25-game regular season with no multi-team event. Women’s teams can either schedule a 23-game regular season with up to four additional games in a multi-team event, or a 25-game regular season and no multi-team event.
To be eligible for the NCAA basketball tournaments, teams must play at least 13 games against other Division I opponents.