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NCAA approves Nov. 25 start date for college basketball

The 2020-21 college basketball season came into a bit more focus on Friday when the NCAA Division I Council moved the start date back from Nov. 10 to Nov. 26.

The NCAA will not allow scrimmages or exhibition games before that date.

“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.

Moving back the start of the season will reduce the maximum number of games allowed by four — men’s basketball teams can schedule 24 regular-season games and participate in one tournament with a maximum of three games or play in 25 regular-season games.

Head coach Shaka Smart’s team will reportedly participate in the Maui Invitational in Asheville, N.C. starting in late November amidst a field that is expected to include Alabama, Davidson, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, and UNLV.

In women’s basketball, 23 regular-season games is the maximum with participation in a tournament with up to four games or 25 regular-season games.

“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.”

Preseason practices can begin on Oct. 14, providing 42 days to practice a maximum of 30 times. In addition to the relatively normal preseason practice period, the NCAA is also allowing a transition period of roughly three weeks with up to 12 hours of strength and conditioning activities, sport-related meetings, and skill instruction with an eight-hour limit on skill instruction.

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