College basketball seasons can start on Nov. 25

The 2020-21 men’s and women’s college basketball seasons can start on Nov. 25, the NCAA Division I Council said Wednesday.

The council, following its vote, said no exhibitions or scrimmages can be held before that date, which is the day before Thanksgiving.

Over the past couple of weeks, discussions had centered around waiting until the Nov. 21-25 range to begin the season. NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt said last week on a webinar with athletic directors and other college sports officials that Nov. 25 was under consideration because campuses around the country will be ending their fall semesters.

“By Thanksgiving week, the date of Nov. 25, 76% of all Division I schools will have either finished their fall semester completely or released the general student body for in-person instruction,” Gavitt said on the webinar.

With general students home for the entire month of December and the early part of January, it provides at least a six-week window for the college basketball season to get underway.

The season was originally expected to begin on Nov. 10 with the men’s Champions Classic involving Duke, Michigan State, Kansas and Kentucky. It’s unclear when or how the early-season events and nonconference games scheduled for the first two weeks of the season will occur. Bubbles and “controlled environments,” as Gavitt referred to them last week, are under consideration for a number of nonconference tournaments, sources have told ESPN.

The Nov. 25 date is only a guideline for the start date, as conferences and individual schools will make adjustments to fit inside the framework of the Division I Council’s plan for the season.

Gavitt has said the NCAA is still planning for the NCAA tournament to proceed as scheduled with 68 teams and 14 sites in March and April.