The NCAA Division I Council met today and voted to begin the men’s and women’s college basketball season on Nov. 25. Practices can start as early as October 14th. While the start date is “official,” it is not guaranteed that circumstances involving coronavirus may not cause further delay to the season start date.
There was no immediate clarity provided on potential changes to the number of games allowed, or specific protocols teams must follow regarding COVID-19 testing procedures, quarantining, and screening of those testing positive as they attempt to return. The Big Ten announced in their statement regarding the new October start date for college football that the conference will be releasing their own protocols and plans for the men’s and women’s basketball season at a later date. Specifically, the statement said:
Eventually all Big Ten sports will require testing protocols before they can resume competition. Updates regarding fall sports other than football, as well as winter sports that begin in the fall including men’s and women’s basketball, men’s ice hockey, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, and wrestling, will be announced shortly.
There are likely a number of changes that will result to team schedules. While not many have a full schedule up even for the non-conference portion, the delayed start will have an immediate impact on events such as the Champions Classic for Michigan State, or the Myrtle Beach Invite for Nebraska. Both of these events are scheduled prior to the new season start date. Other conference events such as the ACC-Big Ten Challenge and the Gavitt Games may be impacted if the total games allowed during the season are reduced.
The NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt stated on Aug. 17. that the NCAA Division I Council would vote by mid-September on a decision to continue with the existing basketball schedule for the men’s and women’s 2020-21 season with an official season start date of Nov. 10th.
This news followed with speculation on potential changes to the season ranging on four possible start dates. CBS said that the schedule as it existed or delays ranging to as late as December 10th were the focus. Today they reported that the committees recommended to the council the season begin November 21st. The Division I Council chose to overrule the recommendation for a November 25th start date.
The Pac-12 also was rumored to be reconsidering its Jan. 1, 2021 delay if a December or late November start was chosen. With the Nov. 25 start date selected it will be worth seeing what changes, if any, come from the power-six conference for early season non-conference games and tournaments.