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NCAA | June 29, 2017

Council introduces basketball start-of-season change proposal

Division I basketball games could start three days earlier if legislation introduced today by the Division I Council is adopted.

The proposal, created by the Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Oversight Committees, would move the first contest date to the Tuesday before the second Friday in November, three days earlier than the current start. Additionally, the Council will ask the autonomy conferences to adopt a mandatory three-day break from athletics activities for basketball student-athletes during a school’s winter break.

Dan Guerrero, chair of the Men’s Basketball Oversight Committee and athletics director at UCLA, said the change could benefit the students, fans and the game of basketball overall.

“We hope to strike a balance between creating optimal attention for the start of basketball and providing the best scheduling model for student-athletes, and I think these proposals do that,” Guerrero said.

Changing the start of the season would alleviate the compression of the nonconference season, allow for additional flexibility in providing days off for college athletes and offer a scheduling window that would avoid a conflict with football games for a school’s first basketball game.

The Council also introduced legislation that would change the women’s basketball first practice date to 42 days before the team’s first competition, allowing 42 days to complete 30 practices. Current rules allow 30 practices in 40 days. Men’s basketball would maintain a first practice date that is 42 days before the team’s first competition.

The change in women’s basketball would not only align men’s and women’s basketball, but also help campus administrators with monitoring practice starts. Sandy Hatfield Clubb, chair of the Women’s Basketball Oversight Committee and athletics director at Drake, advocated for the changes, as well.

“The calendar change would provide a little bit of relief from compaction in the calendar,” she said. “It moves the first game from conflicts with volleyball and football and puts a little bit more of the spotlight on basketball student-athletes as we start the season. The practice change provides more flexibility in the calendar but doesn’t change the demands on a student’s time.”

The Council could vote on these proposals as early as January.

To offset the earlier start date, the oversight committees would like to require a three-day period during a school’s winter break in which required athletically related activities are prohibited for basketball student-athletes. This requirement needs to be proposed and voted on by the Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern conferences as part of the autonomy process.

This recommendation for the three-day break is supported by a majority of basketball student-athletes, according to results of a January 2016 NCAA time demands survey of all student-athletes and a National Association of Basketball Coaches time demands ad hoc group. The committees recommended the days count toward required days off per week but not count toward the required 14 additional days off adopted by the five conferences earlier this year.

The committees will consider an exemption from the required three-day break for a team once every four years to allow flexibility in scheduling multiteam events or tournaments during the school’s winter break.

If the proposal is introduced into the autonomy legislative cycle, the 65 schools and 15 student-athletes who vote in that process will consider it at the regular autonomy business session in January. If adopted, it would be effective for the 2018-19 academic year.

Generally, the deadline for legislative proposals in the system is Sept. 1. However, the Council noted that multiple major issues are percolating in the governance structure, including early recruiting and transfer issues, that might require a little extra time to coalesce into legislative proposal form. The Council will ask the Division I Board of Directors to extend the deadline to Nov. 1.

The Council also sponsored legislation that would:

  • Create recruiting “shutdown” periods for all women’s basketball coaches in May and August.
  • Shift the fall weekend for nonscholastic evaluations in women’s basketball to the third weekend in May.
  • Revise the July women’s basketball evaluation period.
  • Allow women’s basketball coaches to use 10 of the allowed 112 recruiting-person days evaluating prospects outside an evaluation or contact period at any live organized activity involving the national team or affiliates if the team is coached by a Division I school’s coach or has a coach involved. The activity would have to be approved, sponsored or conducted by the applicable national governing body, and some limits would apply. Under the proposed legislation, women’s basketball coaches also could use their allowed days at regional championships approved, sponsored or conducted by the International Basketball Federation. Some limits would apply.
  • Expand the women’s soccer championship season without increasing the number of games.

Additionally, the Council members agreed to extend the waiver allowing the NCAA to pay for family travel expenses to the Division I Men’s and Women’s Final Fours. The waiver was extended by a year. Rules permit the College Football Playoffs to provide similar expenses for family members of student-athletes participating in that event.

The autonomy conferences are discussing legislation that could create a more permanent solution to financing family travel.

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