The college basketball season will start on Nov. 25 for both the men's and women's leagues, the NCAA announced Wednesday. The decision was approved by the The Division I Council, who also announced that no exhibition games or closed scrimmages would be played before the start date.
The announcement attributed the moved back start date to wanting to wait until at least three-quarters of DI schools have finished their fall terms or moved to full online instruction. This is in order to wait for a more controlled environment for players on their campuses and lower their risk of contracting COVID-19 from the student body populace.
A University spokesperson said Roy Williams did not have a comment at time of publication, citing the recency of the news and the number of details that still needed to be worked out.
The maximum number of games have been reduced by four: men's teams are now allowed to schedule 24 regular season games and participate in one multiple-team event — like last year's Battle 4 Atlantis the Tar Heels played in — that includes up to three games; 25 regular season games and participate in a multiple-team event that includes up to two games; or 25 regular season games if the team does not compete in a multiple-team event.
In women's basketball, teams can schedule 23 games and play in a multiple-team event that includes up to four games, or schedule 25 games if the team does not play in a multiple-team event.
“We’ve been patient and continued to work hard as the NCAA consulted with its medical team to determine the safest way to return to competitive action," UNC women's basketball head coach Courtney Banghart said in a statement to The Daily Tar Heel. "We’ve been committed to training safely, and we’re thrilled to now have a start date to work towards. College basketball is such a bright spot in what’s been a challenging year, and we all look forward to the journey forward.”
Teams will meet sponsorship requirements and be eligible to participate in the NCAA Tournament if they play 13 games, half the the current requirement of 26. All 13 games must be against Division I opponents in order for a team to qualify for the championship. The Division I men's basketball and women's basketball committees also recommended teams play at least four non-conference games.
Programs are allowed to start practicing on Oct. 14, and will have 42 days to complete a maximum of 30 total practices. Players can work up to 20 hours a week, a maximum of four hours a day, and are required to have at least one day a week off. The NCAA said this schedule is consistent with the normal preseason restrictions, but provides more flexibility because teams can start practicing on Oct. 14 regardless of when their first game is.