NCAA basketball season set to open day before Thanksgiving

College Sports UPMatters

FILE – In this April 4, 2016, file photo, sportscaster Dick Vitale poses with Villanova fans before the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball championship game between Villanova and North Carolina in Houston. Vitale didn’t know if he would reach this year’s $5 million goal of raising money for pediatric cancer research due to the coronavirus pandemic. It turns out he has met his goal and then some. Vitale’s annual gala has already reached $7 million going into Friday’s event, which will be virtual this year. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

(AP) – The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball season will begin on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

The Division I Council voted Wednesday to push the start date back from the originally scheduled Nov. 10 as one of several precautions against the spread of coronavirus.

The later start date coincides with the decision most schools made to send students home from Thanksgiving until January out of concern about a potential late-fall and early-winter flareup of COVID-19. Closed campuses could serve as a quasi bubble for players and provide a window for nonconference games.

The maximum number of regular-season games has been reduced from 31 to 27. The minimum number of games for consideration for the NCAA Tournament was cut from 25 to 13.

Teams can start preseason practices Oct. 14 but will be allowed to work out 12 hours per week beginning Monday.

No scrimmages against other teams or exhibitions are allowed.

In other action, the council voted to extend the recruiting dead period for all sports through Dec. 31. In-person recruiting is not allowed during a dead period, though phone calls and other correspondence are allowed.

The men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees had jointly recommended a start date of Nov. 21, which would have allowed for games to be played on the weekend before Thanksgiving. The council opted not to do that to avoid a conflict with regular-season football games.

The council is scheduled to meet again Oct. 13-14 and could delay the start date and change other pieces of the basketball framework if circumstances surrounding the virus warrant.

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