College basketball fans have seen games cut short, seasons postponed and have even questioned the future of sports amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, but they will have something special to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. The Division I Council of the National Collegiate Athletic Association announced Wednesday that the 2020-21 men’s and women’s basketball campaigns are set to begin Nov. 25.
“The new season start date near the Thanksgiving holiday provides the optimal opportunity to successfully launch the basketball season,” NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt said. “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 Council said the start date was pushed back from Nov. 10 to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19, as by then most colleges will have ended their academic semesters or shifted to completely online instruction. Preseason practices can begin on Oct. 14, giving the teams 42 days to hold a maximum of 30 practices. Within these weeks, athletes can work up to 20 hours a week, which includes four hours per day with one day off. The NCAA also made a “transition period” for these teams that will start Sept. 21 and go until the beginning of matchups. This means that teams can begin strength and conditioning sessions, sports meetings and skills training for up to 12 hours a week within the period.
The St. John’s Ticket Office tweeted yesterday that they do not have any specific information on the men’s and women’s basketball teams’ full schedules.
“As we learn more, we will continue to keep you updated,” the tweet read.
Men’s basketball has three options for scheduling: 24 regular-season games and one multi-team event of up to three games, 25 regular-season games and one multi-team event of up to two games or 25 regular-season games and no multi-team event. Women’s basketball has similar options for their campaign: 23 regular-season games and one multi-team event of up to four games or 25 regular-season games with no multi-team event.
The Division I Men’s and Division I Women’s basketball committees recommend limiting non-conference games to a minimum of four for the campaigns.
“Teams will meet sport sponsorship and be considered for NCAA championship selection if they play 13 games,” said the NCAA in their report on Wednesday.
That number is a 50% reduction from the current minimum requirement, and all 13 matchups must be played against a Division I rival.
It has not yet been announced whether fans will be able to attend the 2020-21 campaign games. However, there is always access to Big East games via broadcast, including Caffeine TV, Live On Youtube and the Big East Digital Network. Fans will be able to kick back, enjoy the smell of turkey cooking in the oven and flip the channel to college basketball this Thanksgiving.
After premature endings to the 2019-20 campaigns, the St. John’s Men’s and Women’s basketball teams will be back in action at Carnesecca Arena this fall to showcase all they have been working on during the preseason.
“Mark your [calendar],” St. John’s Men’s Basketball tweeted last night. “See you on Nov. 25!”