Nati Harnik/Associated Press
The NCAA Division I Council voted Wednesday to start the 2020-21 college basketball season on Nov. 25, according to Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports.
CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander provided more detail on the upcoming season:
Matt Norlander @MattNorlander
@CBSSports More, per sources:
—NCAA has voted to keep recruiting visits dead/banned until Jan. 1.
—No scrimmages or exhibitions at all this season.
—Regular-season capacity has been reduced by four games
— Teams can start practicing as much as 12 hours per week starting Sept. 21
The season was initially scheduled to begin on Nov. 10, but it was pushed back as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
With the start date reportedly finalized, there are key questions to answer as the sport attempts to rebound after the 2020 NCAA tournament was canceled in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The two Power Five conferences that delayed their football seasons, the Pac-12 and Big Ten, haven’t committed to starting basketball on time. Schools from mid-major conferences could struggle for financial viability without games against top-tier opponents, per ESPN’s Myron Medcalf.
One coach from a non-Power Five school told Medcalf it would be “impossible” to schedule and play the basketball season right now because of financial concerns.
The uncertainty with the Pac-12 and Big Ten, combined with questions about the conferences outside of the Power Five—which represent a majority of the 350-plus Division I basketball programs—will need to get resolved over the next two months.
If the season moves forward as scheduled, Rothstein reported there are eight early-season tournaments scheduled to take place in Orlando, Florida (h/t Sports Business Journal). It’ll provide teams with a bubble-like atmosphere that the NBA, WNBA and NHL have successfully used to play amid the pandemic.
How many games each team will play—the typical number is around 30 for the regular season—and whether fans will be cleared to attend are among the other issues that will depend on how soon a team’s conference is able to start and the local COVID-19 guidelines in place.
In August, longtime Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski stressed the importance of the Big Dance during an appearance on ESPN Radio’s Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin.
“We’re the thing that the NCAA is most concerned about because men’s college basketball and the tournament pays for something like … it produces 98 percent or more of the money for the NCAA. We need to have the tournament. We can’t have it where two years in a row you don’t have the NCAA tournament.”
Krzyzewski and his fellow ACC coaches proposed an all-inclusive edition of March Madness, allowing all eligible D-I programs to take part in the event, but NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt said it wasn’t an idea currently under consideration.
Wednesday’s vote is the first step toward the return of college basketball, but there are still plenty of hurdles to overcome before it gets underway.