College basketball will begin on Nov. 25, about three weeks later than this past season and two weeks after it originally was scheduled to start, the NCAA announced Wednesday.
No exhibition games or closed scrimmages will be allowed before the start of the season, the NCAA’s Division I Council decreed, and the maximum number of games permitted will be reduced by four to 24, not counting conference tournament or NCAA tournament contests.
“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 on the organization’s website. “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 can begin preseason practice on Oct. 14. The NCAA release did not mention spectators.
The NCAA abandoned the 2019-2020 season on March 12 due the outbreak of the novel coronavirus with many of the conference tournaments still ongoing. The NCAA Championship Tournament, which was scheduled to begin March 17, was cancelled for the first time in its 82-year history.
By starting two weeks later than previously scheduled, the plan is intended to allow at least three-quarters of Division I schools to have concluded their fall terms or moved remaining instruction and exams online. At that time, the NCAA hopes to have less populated campuses and reduce the risk spreading the novel coronavirus.
The NBA reportedly is considering delaying the start of its season to no sooner than Christmas Day, but that supposedly “remained fluid.”
The college football season began on Sept. 3, but the Pac-12, one of the “Power Five” conferences, as well as several smaller conferences postponed their season until the spring. The ACC, Big 12 and SEC began as previously scheduled and the Big 10 on Wednesday reversed an earlier decision and announced it would play a shortened calendar beginning Oct. 23.
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