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2020-21 college basketball season to start on Nov. 25 after NCAA vote

Florida State flag bearers run across the floor before the start of an NCAA college basketball...
Florida State flag bearers run across the floor before the start of an NCAA college basketball game against Virginia Tech in Tallahassee, Fla., Tuesday, March 5, 2019. Florida State won 73-64 in overtime. (AP Photo/Phil Sears)(WCTV)
Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 9:05 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CBS) - The NCAA’s Division I Council voted Wednesday to begin the 2020-21 college basketball season on Nov. 25, sources told CBS Sports.

The highly anticipated decision comes five days after the women’s and men’s basketball oversight committees submitted joint recommendations to start on Nov. 21. But the Council wields the autonomy to make amendments to official proposals, and in this case decided the day before Thanksgiving was most proper.

NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt told CBS Sports Wednesday evening that the Nov. 25 date was decided upon in no small part because an estimated 76% of college campuses will have their student bodies entirely off campus by then, versus an estimated 43% on Nov. 20.

The decision also throws a wrench into nonconference scheduling, as nearly a dozen multi-team events (MTE) -- including the lauded Maui Invitational -- were scheduled to begin Nov. 23. Now those events need to work around the new start date, and teams will have to further reconfigure their schedules. The season maximum has been reduced from 31 games to 27 -- and 27 is if a team plays in an MTE. If it does not, Gavitt told CBS Sports the cap is 24 or 25 depending on the size of the MTE. As previously reported, the minimum for NCAA Tournament eligibility is 13 games against Division I competition. There is also a recommendation that all teams, if able, play a minimum of four non-conference games.

With the start date being Nov. 25 that means full-blown practices can start 42 days prior, per NCAA rules. That equates to Oct. 14 serving as the start of college basketball’s preseason.

Recruiting was also discussed on Wednesday, where a long-term decision was made. The in-person dead period -- meaning no visits -- has been extended until Jan 1. Also of interest to coaches: the Council agreed to up the amount of countable athletically related activities (CARA) from eight to 12 hours per week, with eight of those hours being on-court. That will go into effect Monday and last through Oct. 13, the day before preseason begins.

There will be no scrimmages or exhibitions allowed in the preseason, either.

What wasn’t decided on Wednesday was any COVID-related testing regulations, both in terms of testing and with gameday protocols. Gavitt said that would be determined in the weeks to come. Speculation from stakeholders is that Division I sports will have larger access to slightly more affordable testing by the end of November.

And in a historic decision, the Council also approved legislation tied to the #AllVoteNoPlay movement that was started June 3 with a tweet from Georgia Tech men’s basketball assistant Eric Reveno. Starting this November, all CARA NCAA activities will be put on hold for the first Tuesday after Nov. 1 every year. This year’s Election Day falls on Nov. 3, well before college basketball season starts -- but it means practices would not be held. This is an NCAA-wide decision. Previously scheduled game competitions as late as July are exempt from this for 2020 if schools so choose. As it stands, many institutions have already made the decision to halt all athletic activity on Nov. 3 in an effort to make sure players, coaches and administrators vote.

Though the start date is now official, it is not set in stone. Gavitt told CBS Sports that if circumstances surrounding the coronavirus situation worsen, college basketball’s season could be pushed back again. The Division I Council is next scheduled to meet in mid-October, when it’s expected to address men’s and women’s basketball once more and vote as necessary on any potential amendments.

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