The NCAA basketball season for men and women begins Nov. 25 the day before Thanksgiving.
The Division I Council voted on Wednesday to push the start date back from the originally planned November 10 as one of several measures against the spread of coronavirus.
The later start date coincides with the decision most schools have made to send students home from Thanksgiving until January out of concern over a potential late-fall and early-winter flare-up of COVID-19. Closed campuses could serve as a quasi-bubble for players and provide a window into non-conference gaming.
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“The fact that our campuses will be cleared, it will be possible to control the exposures further, and the 25th gives us this opportunity,”
The men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees had jointly recommended a start date of November 21, a Saturday. Calhoun said the council would avoid a start date over the weekend due to potential overlap of basketball and football matches on campuses.
The maximum number of regular season matches is reduced from 31 to 27.
“The reason was that teams during the season tend to play an average of two games a week, so the fact that we shorten the season by two weeks necessitated a reduction in games so we are not counterproductive and try to stop more a shortened season, ”Calhoun said.
The minimum number of games to consider for the NCAA Tournament was cut from 25 to 13. Calhoun said the low minimum is a recognition that schools are likely to experience different levels of COVID-19 cases and will have to change schedules.
“We fully expect that there will be some problems as we go through the season, just as we have seen in football, so we want the institutions to have the flexibility to put together seasons,” she said.
Teams can start training in the pre-season on October 14th. From Monday, teams will be allowed to participate in strength and conditioning and sports-related meetings and skills instruction for up to 12 hours per week with an eight-hour limit for skill instruction.
No scrimmages against other teams or exhibitions are allowed. It was also recommended that each team play at least four nonconference games.
The council is scheduled to meet again on 13-14. October and may postpone the start date and change other parts of the basketball frame if the circumstances surrounding the virus warrant.
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The Council also voted to extend the recruitment deadline for all sports until 1 January. Personal recruitment is prohibited during a dead period, although telephone calls and other correspondence are allowed.
Legislation on citizen involvement was also approved. Exercise, competition and countless other athletically related activities are prohibited Tuesday after the first Monday in November each year, including this year’s election day on November 3rd.
The Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee proposed that legislation should provide for a day each year dedicated to increasing the opportunities for athletes to participate in activities such as voting or community service.