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NCAA D-I Council passes multiple changes, including start date for college hoops
COLLEGE SPORTS

NCAA D-I Council passes multiple changes, including start date for college hoops

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The NCAA Division I Council passed a wide array of sports schedules and changes Wednesday -- most notably a start date for the college basketball season and a timeline for the FCS playoffs in the spring.

The NCAA also announced the rest of the fall sports calendars.

Here is a rundown of the announcements:

Basketball

College basketball has a start date.

Men’s and women’s hoops are slated to start the day before Thanksgiving on Nov. 25, when Northern Arizona has its final day of the semester. This of course is fluid and depends on whether the severity of the pandemic worsens or trends downward.

It is unclear how many games this changes for Northern Arizona men’s and women’s basketball, as the teams' schedules have not been made public because of the unknowns about the nonconference slate. For now, the men are scheduled to play in the Jerry Colangelo Classic in the Valley in December.

Teams can officially start the preseason Oct. 14, 42 days before the start of the regular season. Teams are not allowed to play exhibition games or scrimmages before the official start of the season. The council is scheduled to meet again in October to address men’s and women’s basketball and address any potential changes that need to be made.

The council also set a new range of games for each school to hit. The max amount of games each team can schedule has been reduced from 31 to 27, and the minimum for NCAA Tournament consideration changed from 25 all the way down to 13 for men’s hoops. For women, the max is 25, or 23 if a team participates in an in-season tourney.

For now, the Big Sky Conference hoops slate is set for 16 games for each team. Schools will play six teams twice and the other four once -- the scheduling of which will be based off geographic location.

It is also up in the air whether college basketball will have to utilize some form of bubble, which is an idea that reportedly has floated around the NCAA. Tournaments such as the Battle for Atlantis and the Maui Invitational have reportedly been moved to less-than-scenic locations.

Football

The council announced that the FCS playoffs, as expected since it was postponed a month ago, will take place in late spring from April 18 to May 15, 2021. The field has been reduced to 16 teams from 24, according to a press release. The results for teams that choose to play in the fall will play into the selection process for the spring playoffs.

Technically, the championship framework must be approved by the NCAA D-I Board of Directors as a formality.

The NCAA clarified and made a ruling on early enrollees as well: Athletes that enroll mid-year in January are not eligible to compete in the spring season.

Teams also now have a clear idea of what a practice schedule for the fall could look like. Starting Monday, teams can start what is essentially spring practices in the fall -- called “fall ball” in the NCAA’s press release. Teams can go up to 12 hours per week and a max of four hours per day with two required off days each week.

The move now gives conferences a clearer idea of how to make their schedules going forward.

Recruiting

The recruiting dead period was extended through the end of 2020.

The dead period had been extended a number of times since April, with the latest now being the final for the year. The dead period means schools cannot participate in any in-person recruiting and all correspondences can only take place over the phone.

Fall sports

It looks like cross country will predominantly be a winter sport in 2021.

The season is set to start Jan. 30 and end March 6, with the NCAA title meet on March 15. The release from the NCAA noted that there are concerns about having cross country, indoor track and field, and outdoor track and field happening so close together.

It is unclear how having all the running sports in a small window will work.

Volleyball is scheduled to run from Jan. 22 to April 10, with the later rounds of the NCAA volleyball tourney taking place April 23 to April 25. The bracket will be reduced from 64 to 48 teams.

The Big Sky adjusted the volleyball tourney to be just the top four teams following a 16-match regular season.

Women's soccer will start Feb. 3 and end April 24, with the women's college cup taking place May 13 through 17. The bracket will also be reduced from 64 to 48 teams. The Big Sky completely nixed the conference tournament, which means the regular-season champ will earn the auto berth to the NCAA tourney.

Lance Hartzler can be reached at 556-2251 or at lhartzler@azdailysun.com. Follow him on Twitter @lance_hartz.

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