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NCAA committees reportedly eye Nov. 25 start date for college hoops

James Hawkins
The Detroit News

College basketball fans might have a little bit more to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

The NCAA’s men’s and women’s oversight committees agreed Tuesday to propose Nov. 25 — the day before the annual holiday — as the start date of the 2020-21 college hoops season, according to a report from CBS Sports on Wednesday.

Tom Izzo, left, and Juwan Howard

The recommendation will be sent to the Division I Council, which is scheduled to meet on Sept. 16 and will discuss the approved proposal. The Council could vote to make Nov. 25 the sport’s new official opening day instead of its currently scheduled Nov. 10 start date.

Dan Gavitt, the NCAA’s vice president for basketball, said last month the NCAA will announce its plans for the upcoming season in mid-September.

“We will provide direction about whether the season and practice start on time or a short-term delay is necessitated by the ongoing pandemic,” Gavitt said in an Aug. 17 statement. “We recognize that we are living and operating in an uncertain time, and it is likely that mid-September will be just the first milestone for many important decisions pertaining to the regular season and the NCAA basketball championships.”

According to the CBS Sports report, “flexibility in the coming 6-8 weeks will be paramount,” and the start date for men’s and women’s basketball will be “delayed as necessary” if the coronavirus pandemic worsens.

Due to the pandemic, the NCAA has been developing contingency plans and reportedly has been exploring several potential start dates, with Nov. 25 and the first week of December gaining traction as the preferred dates.

More: 'Bubble' for college basketball? 'There's a million ways' it could work, Izzo says

Delaying the season by two weeks and starting it just before Thanksgiving would allow teams to take advantage of empty college campuses, with students heading home and most schools switching to online-only instruction after the holiday break for the remainder of the semester. That could create a safer and more bubble-like environment for student-athletes.

But what the college basketball season would look like and how many games teams would play remains to be seen. The Pac-12 and Ivy League have already canceled all athletic competition, including men’s and women’s basketball, until the end of the year, but it’s possible the conferences could reconsider their decisions. A later start could also wipe out nonconference contests that have been scheduled before Nov. 25.

Still, there has been plenty of optimism and no shortage of ideas to make the college basketball season work, from regionalized bubbles for nonconference play to expanded conference-only schedules.

"Realistically, I think it's possible to somehow play some Big Ten games,” Michigan’s Franz Wagner said in an interview with the Big Ten Network last week. “I think in the Big Ten we're very fortunate that we have great competition, so we don't really need to play with other conference's teams to really get better and have some good games. I just hope we get some Big Ten games in.

“I know the decision has yet to be made, but obviously everyone wants fans in the stands because that's a big part of the game and it's a lot more fun with that. We'll see how this turns out. It's going to be interesting.”

Twitter: @jamesbhawkins