HUNTINGTON — This year, there could be a little more sports excitement to go with Thanksgiving dinner.
On Wednesday evening, the NCAA Division I Council voted to push the start date of the men’s and women’s college basketball season back to Nov. 25 as a COVID-19 precaution.
Originally, the season was slated to begin on Nov. 10, but now it will get underway on the day before Thanksgiving.
“The new season start date near the Thanksgiving holiday provides the optimal opportunity to successfully launch the basketball season,” said Dan Gavitt, NCAA senior vice president of basketball.
The move came about as a safety precaution with many Division I institutions electing to send students home from Thanksgiving until January, which minimizes the potential for COVID-19 spread during the colder months as winter comes around.
Closed campuses would serve as bubble-type atmospheres for those men’s and women’s basketball teams with university, state and local protocols still in place as outlined under the NCAA’s Core Principles of Resocialization of Sport.
In subsequent moves on Wednesday, the Division I Council announced that the men’s and women’s basketball practice will begin on Oct. 14 and seasons would be reduced from a maximum of 31 games to a maximum of 27 games if playing in a multi-team event. That number decreases to 25 games if not taking part in a multi-team event.
In the case of most programs, schedules have already been finalized for the 2020-21 season, meaning adjustments will have to be made.
Marshall University’s men’s basketball team has 31 games scheduled with four games occurring prior to the Nov. 25 start date.
However, some of those games are part of a multi-team event, making it tricky to eliminate them.
Marshall head coach Dan D’Antoni said that he and his coaching staff — namely, assistant Mark Cline, who is in charge of scheduling — and Marshall’s administration will convene to discuss the best options moving forward.
“It’s something we have to sit down and discuss and figure out which way is the best way to go,” D’Antoni said.
In addition with the announcement, it was announced that no preseason exhibitions or closed scrimmages would take place.
The minimum number of games for NCAA Tournament consideration was cut nearly in half — from 25 to 13 — for the 2020-21 season.