The NCAA Division I Council met today (Wednesday) and approved a college basketball start date of November 25th. Earlier in the morning, the Big 10 announced a fall return to the gridiron October 24th with an 8-game schedule, leaving only the Pac-12 absent from football until a self-imposed deadline of January 1st set, in part, due to the restrictions in place in California and Oregon.
Sources: The 20-21 college basketball season will officially begin on November 25th. https://t.co/CFPd32fePB
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) September 16, 2020
With rapid-response testing believed to be available to athletic departments at the end of this month, the widely-held assumption is that the Pac-12 will back off their Jan. 1 postponement, potentially starting the college basketball season on November 25th along with everyone else and starting college football as early as late November. In its Aug. 10 announcement, the Pac-12 outlined four major parameters for a decision on whether to restart sports which will require further work: The level of community COVID-19 spread, the availability of rapid testing, concerns over related health issues such as myocarditis, and local health guidelines.
The NCAA committee selected a start between Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday which would, essentially, create a bubble for student-athletes to begin playing again while many campuses are empty on holiday break.
Details regarding non-conference basketball play should be wrapped up quickly as conferences resolve their conference schedules and determine if and when they will play non-conference foes.
Typically, basketball teams play 30 or 31 games before conference tournaments begin but the NCAA is expected to approve fewer games for NCAA D1 participants due to the delayed start.
NCHC Commissioner Josh Fenton previously mentioned to Brad Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald that the NCHC’s targeted start date of November 20th was chosen in part because basketball expected to start around that same time. Per Fenton, college hockey has been hoping to align its season with college basketball. With the basketball season officially starting on the 25th, it’s becoming more and more likely that the NCHC’s targeted date will become reality.
But will there be fans at basketball and hockey games? Don’t hold your breath.
Photo of Taelyr Gatlin courtesy Denver Athletics