Division I basketball has its new starting date for the 2020-21 season.
The Division I Council approved Wednesday a revised start date of Nov. 25 for basketball games to start, which means formal practices are allowed to begin for teams at UAlbany and Siena starting on Oct. 14.
Prior to that Oct. 14 date, programs will be allowed to work out for up to 12 hours per week, starting Monday.
Siena athletic director John D’Argenio said Tuesday that his school’s programs would not have played any games prior to Nov. 25 regardless of what the NCAA pegged as its starting date, while UAlbany athletic director Mark Benson said Wednesday in a text message to The Daily Gazette that the Great Danes’ men’s and women’s teams would be allowed to play games as soon as permitted by the NCAA.
That date, originally, was Nov. 10, but was widely expected to be pushed back, as it was Wednesday, because of concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic. The Division I Council is expected to meet again in mid-October, a meeting at which it could delay or alter plans for the upcoming season.
“Moving the start date back from Nov. 10 is intended to have contests begin when at least three-quarters of Division I schools will have concluded their fall terms or moved remaining instruction and exams online, creating a more controlled and less populated campus environment that may reduce the risk of COVID-19 that can occur between student-athletes and the broader student body population,” the NCAA’s press release, in part, reads.
Benson — whose department has been “indefinitely pausing all athletic-related activities” since Friday because of a spike in COVID-19 cases among the school’s campus community, including within athletics — said the America East Conference continues to develop scheduling scenarios for its basketball teams.
Details of the MAAC’s scheduling plans were revealed Tuesday. Siena’s teams will be able to play four or five non-conference games, and will start league play in December. MAAC men’s games will start Dec. 8 and women’s games will start Dec. 9, and league games will take place on Tuesdays and Fridays for the men, and Wednesdays and Saturdays for the women.
Before Nov. 25, no exhibition games or closed scrimmages will be permitted. Men’s and women’s teams will be allowed to play up to 27 games, and need to play at least 13 games against fellow Division I squads to be postseason eligible.
FCS CHANGES MADE
The Division I Council also approved a variety of measures for football programs playing next spring, which UAlbany and the CAA is expected to do.
Teams will be allowed to play “eight regular-season games to occur during a period of not more than 13 weeks in the spring, with the last regular-season game occurring not later than April 17.”
The FCS playoffs, trimmed from 24 teams to 16, will run from April 18 through May 15; that framework needs formal approval next week when the Division I Board of Directors meets.