NCAA targets mid-September for decision on college basketball start

The NCAA is prepared to shift the Nov. 10 start date for college basketball if necessary, according to a statement released Monday by Dan Gavitt, senior vice president of basketball.

By mid-September, the governing body will announce its first crucial decision about the upcoming season. Per NCAA rules, full practices can start 42 days before a team's first game. In the statement, Gavitt said "contingency" plans have been developed that will allow the NCAA to move the start date for practices and games if necessary due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, the Pac-12 announced that the earliest its teams will play basketball is Jan. 1. Speculation throughout college basketball has centered on conference-only schedules for multiple leagues.

"In the coming weeks, the NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Basketball Oversight Committees will take the lead with me in a collaborative process of finalizing any recommendations for consideration by the NCAA Division I Council for the start of the college basketball season," Gavitt said in the statement. "By 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."

Last week, Gavitt told ESPN that NCAA officials had discussed the specifics of a potential NCAA tournament in a bubble, including replacement teams if squads are forced to quarantine due to positive tests for COVID-19. Gavitt said the NCAA prefers a traditional format in March and April but also is assessing the costs and logistics of a nontraditional arrangement.

The cancellation of last season's men's and women's postseason tournaments reportedly cost the NCAA more than $375 million.

"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," Gavitt said in his statement. "While circumstances may warrant flexibility resulting in a different and perhaps imperfect season, the ultimate goal is to safely provide student-athletes and teams with a great college basketball experience."