College basketball could return to action sooner than expected.
The NCAA has proposed moving the start date for the 2020-21 basketball season up two weeks. Instead of tipping off in November, the NCAA’s top basketball executive, Dan Gavitt, tells Sports Illustrated the season may begin as early as Oct. 27.
The early start to the season would give schools more scheduling flexibility, allowing them to front-load the schedule in the event that games in the middle of winter are canceled by COVID-19. The proposal is a response to the changes in how classes will be conducted at most campuses this year, with in-person classes on campuses ending at Thanksgiving for a prolonged winter break. Keeping student-athletes on campus for six weeks while other students are home during the pandemic isn’t necessarily great for optics.
“At this point it’s just a concept,” Gavitt said. “But we have presented it to the conference commissioners and the oversight committees. The ball is in their court. It has some utility, adds some flexibility and options with the (academic) calendar changing, which could affect the break period.”
Gavitt’s scheduling proposal was submitted to conference leaders two weeks ago. So far the primary response he’s received has been, “we’ll wait and see” as officials attempt to sort out how to play out the 2020 college football season.
Kentucky is currently scheduled to start the season against Kansas in the Champions Classic Nov. 10 in Chicago. If 8-12 mid-winter games must be canceled as Gavitt suggests, Kentucky would need to find some local teams to play in October and November. The good news is that Drew Franklin has already done the heavy lifting for Mitch Barnhart and DeWayne Peevy.