NCAA approves start date for college basketball


Alexa Sandler

DePaul senior Deja Church drives to the basket against Destiny Strother in the Big East Tournament championship game on March 9 at Wintrust Arena.

Six months after the 2019-2020 college basketball season was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the sport now has its start date for the upcoming season. 

The Division I council voted on Wednesday to approve Nov. 25 as the start date for the men’s and women’s college basketball season, two weeks later than previously planned. 

The NCAA, however, is not allowing teams to hold exhibition games or closed scrimmages before the start of the season. According to the committee that decided on the Nov. 25 date, moving the season back two weeks will allow more universities to finish their fall terms in the middle of November.

“Moving the start date back from Nov. 10 is intended to have contests begin when at least three-quarters of Division I schools will have concluded their fall terms or moved remaining instruction and exams online, creating a more controlled and less populated campus environment that may reduce the risk of COVID-19 that can occur between student-athletes and the broader student body population,” the Division I Men’s and Women’s Oversight Committees said.

Furthermore, the NCAA also reduced the number of games teams are allowed to play this season. In men’s basketball, teams can schedule 24 regular-season games and play in one multiple-team event that includes three games; 25 games and participate in one multiple-team event that only includes two games or 25 games if a team does not participate in a regular-season tournament. 

In women’s basketball, however, teams can play 23 regular-season games and participate in one multiple-team event that includes four games, or play 25 games if a team does not participate in a multiple-team event.

The minimum number of regular-season games is set to 13. 

“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. “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.”

The Big East is moving to 20 conference games with the addition of UConn into the 11-member league. But the Big East has yet to finalize plans for its non-conference and conference schedule. 

“Discussions are ongoing as of Friday afternoon in regards to scheduling and testing with the conference office and the Big East membership,” DePaul Athletic Director DeWayne Peevy told The DePaulia. “Once the structure of a conference schedule is determined, we can fill in other dates of potential non-conference games under the guidelines set by the NCAA earlier this week.”

Beyond planning the 2020-21 schedule, the Big East is also working to confirm testing protocols and potential locations for conference games. 

“We have not reached conclusions on testing protocols yet,” a Big East spokesperson told The DePaulia. “We are certainly mindful of the NCAA’s recommendations. A bubble is one of a few different options that is being considered as we put together a scheduling plan.

DePaul’s men’s basketball team already has multiple non-conference games lined up, including playing Northwestern and Loyola. The Blue Demons are also supposed to play in the Las Vegas Invitational, with Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports reporting that the tournament is still looking to play in Las Vegas. 

DePaul also has Iowa State on its schedule in the Big East-Big 12 challenge. 

“Our first priority now is getting a Big East schedule set as quickly as possible,” Villanova men’s basketball coach Jay Wright told reporters on Thursday. “It’s not like how it used to be, where the league would wait for availability of buildings. There’s so many more variables now, but we want to do that first, then get as many non-conference games as we can to the limit. I do think we all understand this year, everybody might not play the same amount of games for a lot of reasons.”

Teams can begin preseason activities on Oct. 14 and will have 42 days to conduct 30 practices. The Division I council is allowing players to work out for 20 hours per week, four hours a day and must have one day off per week. 

In the meantime, teams are allowed 12 hours per week to conduct basketball-related activities. Players currently have two days off per week. 

coDePaul is still looking to get waivers for two players, Javon Freeman-Liberty and Courvoisier McCauley, before the start of the season.