The NCAA oversight committees for men’s and women’s basketball agree yesterday that they would propose Nov. 25 as the start date for the 2020-21 NCAA basketball season, according to a report from Matt Norlander of CBS Sports.
The Division I Council is scheduled to meet Sept. 16 and would vote on any proposal sent to them by the oversight committees.
At this point, the Pac-12 is the only Power 5 conference that has specifically stated that all sports will be postponed until at least January 1, 2021, but Norlander’s report stated that the Pac-12 could be part of this eventual late-November start date.
Conferences have been divided on their preferred start dates, with the Pac-12 reportedly siding with December 4 among the available options. But if the Nov. 25 start date gets finalized, Norlander wrote: “One source said if Nov. 25 was to be the date, the Pac-12 ‘could probably work with that.'”
As with everything athletic and Covid-19 related, simply setting that date doesn’t guarantee it will move forward exactly as planned. And for the Pac-12, the numbers will play a major role in the ultimate decision, as community spread numbers, available testing on campus and myocarditis concerns derailed the fall football season, and the Pac-12 medical advisors have been consistent in their recommendations to the conference based on the thresholds they see as necessary to allow competition to take place.
It will also be worth keeping an eye on that six-week window–the amount of time it is generally accepted that programs need to be able to ramp up to a season. That means teams in the conference would need to be able to get their prep for the season started sometime in mid-October.
At this point, USC wouldn’t be able to hold a full practice, though the men’s and women’s basketball programs have been able to continue workouts since their return to campus, while the football and men’s water polo teams have been paused for the last week, and will remain paused until at least Monday.
Moving forward, both men’s and women’s basketball will need to sort out allowable pre-season practice time and likely game minimums as far as eligibility for a potential NCAA Tournament. If some conferences play non-conference games and some don’t, or if some programs are forced to postpone or cancel games–those are all hypotheticals that would need to be addressed.