The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball season will begin on November 25, the day before Thanksgiving.
The Division I Council voted Wednesday to withdraw the November 10 start date initially planned as one of several precautions against the spread of coronavirus.
The later start date coincides with the decision most schools made to send students home from Thanksgiving through January out of concern over a potential outbreak of COVID-19 in late fall and early of winter. Closed campuses could serve as a near-bubble for players and provide a window for non-conference games.
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“The fact that our campuses are clear will make it possible to control the exhibits even more, and on the 25th it gives us that opportunity,” said Grace Calhoun, athletic chairwoman of the Division I board, athletic director of Penn.
The men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees had jointly recommended a start date for Saturday, Nov. 21. Calhoun said the council wanted to avoid a weekend start date due to possible overlaps of basketball and football matches on campus.
The maximum number of games in the regular season has been reduced from 31 to 27.
“The reason was that during the season teams tend to play an average of two games a week, so shortening the season by two weeks made it necessary to reduce the games, so we are not being counterproductive and we try to stop it for a shorter season, ”Calhoun said.
The minimum number of games to consider for the NCAA tournament was reduced from 25 to 13. Calhoun said the minimum is a recognition that schools will likely experience different levels of COVID-19 cases and will have to change schedules.
“We anticipate that there will be some problems as we move forward in the season, just as we have seen in football, so we want there to be flexibility so that institutions can organize seasons,” he said.
Teams can begin preseason practice on October 14th. Starting Monday, teams will be allowed to participate in strength and conditioning and sports-related meetings and skills instruction up to 12 hours a week, with an eight-hour limit on skills instruction.
Mixtures against other equipment or displays are not permitted. It was also recommended that each team play a minimum of four non-conference games.
The board is scheduled to meet Oct. 13-14 and could delay the start date and change other parts of the basketball framework if circumstances surrounding the virus justify it.
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The council also voted to extend the recruiting downtime for all sports until January 1st. Face-to-face hiring is prohibited during a downtime, although phone calls and other correspondence are allowed.
Legislation on civic engagement was also passed. Practicing, competing and other accounting activities related to athletics will be prohibited on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November of each year, including this year’s election day on November 3rd.
The Division I Student and Athlete Advisory Committee proposed legislation to provide one day each year dedicated to increasing opportunities for athletes to participate in activities such as voting or community service.