NCAA Releases COVID-19 Guidelines for Basketball Ahead of 2020-21 Season

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistSeptember 25, 2020

A view of the March Madness logo inside the Dayton Arena, Friday, March 13, 2020, in Dayton, Ohio. The coronavirus outbreak has abruptly roused the University of Dayton from its dream of a basketball season. The 29-2 Flyers were rolling into tournament play on a 20-game winning streak that had lifted spirits in an Ohio city battered in the past year by violent deaths and devastation. The NCAA decision to cancel March Madness ended hopes for the small Roman Catholic school's first Final Four appearance in 53 years. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)
Aaron Doster/Associated Press

After announcing the 2020-21 college basketball season can start on Nov. 25, the NCAA has released official COVID-19 guidelines for players, coaches and teams. 

Per Paul Myerberg of USA Today, the NCAA "suggests testing players, coaches and officials for COVID-19 three times each week and limiting access to court and bench areas during the 2020-21 college basketball season."

NCAA president Mark Emmert issued a statement about the guidelines, via Myerberg:

“This basketball resocialization guidance is based on the best information available in a rapidly changing COVID-19 environment. It is predicated on the assumption that rapid testing capabilities will be readily available later this year. We will constantly assess emerging information as we prepare for the start of the basketball season at the end of November.”

One notable aspect of the guidelines is encouraging schools to put student-athletes and "essential basketball personnel" into a separate tier that will allow them to "best monitor tracing and potential quarantine procedures in case of one or more positive tests for the coronavirus."

The three tests per week would occur on non-consecutive days, with the NCAA saying "schools should consider placing the entire group under quarantine for 14 days" if one person in Tier 1 tests positive. 

When teams go on the road to play, travel parties will ideally be limited to no more than 30 people with schools encouraged "to consider" using things like "private cars or chartered planes; prepackaged meals or room service; same-day travel to avoid overnight stays."

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The NCAA Division I Council announced on Sept. 17 that the start date for men’s and women’s basketball would be no earlier than Nov. 25. Teams are allowed to begin practicing on Oct. 14 and the regular season will consist of no more than 27 games. 

The tentative plan for the NCAA men's basketball tournament is to hold Selection Sunday on March 14, with games beginning two days later. The men's national championship game will be played on April 5. 

The women's national championship game is scheduled to be played on April 4.