The NCAA basketball season is set to begin on Nov. 25, as was announced Wednesday evening by the NCAA and first reported by CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein. The decision was made by the NCAA Division I Council, which met this week to discuss how the season would proceed amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“The new season start date near the Thanksgiving holiday provides the optimal opportunity to successfully launch the basketball season,” said NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt in a press release. “It is a grand compromise of sorts and a unified approach that focuses on the health and safety of student-athletes competing toward the 2021 Division I basketball championships.”
The Nov. 25 date is based on recommendations made to the Council by the NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Oversight Committees. Per the release, the date was chosen to coincide with a time when at least three quarters of Division I schools have either finished their fall semesters or have moved classes fully online. Binghamton University will have moved to fully remote learning by this point.
Per NCAA regulations, basketball practice is permitted to begin six weeks prior to the start of the season, which would put this year’s first day of practice on Oct. 14. There will be no preseason exhibition games or scrimmages allowed during the practice period. Prior to Oct. 14, there will be a transition period in which teams will be allowed to work on conditioning and skill instruction for up to 12 hours a week.
The maximum number of games allowed this season will be 27, a decrease of four from last season. The NCAA created three scheduling models for men’s teams to follow and two for women’s teams. Teams must play a minimum of 13 games this year against Division I opponents to be eligible for March Madness. Additionally, the NCAA is recommending that teams schedule a minimum of four nonconference games for this season.
Per ESPN, the announcement does not mean that every conference will begin its season on Nov. 25. The Pac-12 has postponed all athletic activities until Jan. 1, although the conference’s presidents are meeting later this week to revisit that decision, according to CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander. Given the uncertain nature of the pandemic, different conferences may choose to start their seasons on different dates. The America East has not yet made a decision on winter sports, which includes men’s and women’s basketball.
According to Norlander, the Council also made decisions with regard to recruiting. The Council extended its moratorium on in person visits until Jan. 1.
Edward Aaron contributed reporting to this article.