NCAA council approves Nov. 25 start date for basketball
The NCAA’s DI Council approved a Nov. 25 start date to the 2020-21 men’s and women’s basketball season on Wednesday, pushing back the original start date of Nov. 10.
According to the official release, the later start date is intended to push back games to a time period when “at least three-quarters of Division I schools will have concluded their fall terms or moved remaining instruction and exams online.”
This move is an unsurprising one, as late November was the preferred start goal for the committee. Coaches and school leaders around the country have also backed the time frame, including Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann.
“Using that window of Thanksgiving-on to try to do competition, I think we would all love to see that as a possibility,” Holtmann said in an August interview with The Buckeye Show. “So, I don’t know that that’s going to be the start date, I just know that that has a lot of momentum among not just coaches, but certainly our athletes and administrators.”
Along with the new start date, the DI Council cut the number of allowed games in the upcoming season by four. Men’s basketball teams can now participate in up to 25 games without an early-season tournament, or 24 games plus a three-game tournament in the fall.
Ohio State is scheduled to participate in the 2020 Battle 4 Atlantis, which was reportedly moved to South Dakota earlier this week. The tournament was set to tip off on Nov. 25, but details are no longer available on its website.
Multiple preseason changes were also announced on Wednesday. Teams are not allowed any exhibition games or closed scrimmages leading up to the season, and the first day of official practices was moved back to Oct. 14, 42 days before the Nov. 25 season start.
Once preseason practices begin, teams have normal 20-hour weeks and can practice up to 30 times in the 42-day period.
The NCAA has significantly more control over men’s and women’s basketball than it does over the FBS, meaning it has the power to decide on championships, start dates, and game schedules.
“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. “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.”
Teams are currently in a dead period, with less than a month until full-time practices can begin. The Division I Council approved a “transition period” between the current period and the preseason practice period.
“This transition period is designed to provide additional time for players to prepare for the upcoming season based on the mental and physical challenges basketball players are facing as a result of the pandemic,” the NCAA’s statement said.
The three-week period begins Sep. 21 and includes a limit of 12 hours per week dedicated to “strength and conditioning activities, sport-related meetings and skill instruction,” with an eight hour cap on skill instruction and a mandatory two days off per week.
The council also cut the number of games against Division I opponents necessary to qualify for NCAA championship consideration from 26 to 13, and recommended teams schedule up to four non-conference games.
Per Matt Norlander of CBS Sports, the NCAA has not made any decisions on testing protocols or general COVID-19 regulations.
Just got off the phone with NCAA senior VP of basketball Dan Gavitt, will have a story with a lot of information later on. Important to note:— Matt Norlander (@MattNorlander) September 16, 2020
NCAA did not yet make official decisions on ANY testing protocols or gameday COVID-related protocols. That’s still to come.
The recruiting dead period was also extended through Jan. 1 of next year.
Ohio State was scheduled to play three games before the current Nov. 25 start date: Nov. 11 versus Oakland, Nov. 15 versus Niagara, and Nov. 19 versus Akron before the Battle 4 Atlantis.