The home of the Stony Brook University basketball teams, Island Federal Arena. The National Collegiate Athletic Association announced that the basketball season will start on Nov. 25. SARA RUBERG/STATESMAN FILE

Stony Brook’s fall sports are postponed until the spring, and there has not been much to be excited about regarding athletics — until now. In a press release published on Sept. 17, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) announced that both the men’s and women’s basketball seasons will start on Nov. 25. 

While the return date was originally slated for Nov. 10, this new move allows for the season to start when “at least three-quarters of Division I schools will have concluded their fall terms or moved remaining instructions and exams online.” Because of the pandemic, Stony Brook has adjusted this fall semester accordingly. 

This new return date has come with a litany of changes regarding the many different aspects of a new season. 

Practices can officially begin on Oct. 14, with teams allowed to slowly transition to a traditional practice schedule between now and then. The month-and-a-half time frame between then and the start of the season gives teams enough time for “30 practices at most.”

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As for the scheduling of the season, both the men’s and women’s teams have different options to choose from. Men’s teams can decide between a 24-game or a 25-game season, while women’s teams can decide between a 23-game or a 25-game season. In both cases, teams must play at least 13 other Division I teams to be considered for the NCAA championship. 

While neither basketball program has decided which type of season each will play, there is still time to make that choice. In the meantime, this announcement has brought much needed optimism to the Seawolves.

“Our teams are very excited to have some certainty regarding the start of their 2020-2021 season,” Stony Brook Director of Athletics Shawn Heilbron said in an interview with The Statesman.

Additionally, Heilbron is confident that the new return date will be safer for the players.

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“With our campus moving to remote learning after Thanksgiving, the Nov. 25 start will allow us to create an insulated environment for our student-athletes and coaches,” he said.

This sentiment matches that of the Division I Men’s and Women’s Oversight Committees, which said the new start date creates “a more controlled and less populated campus environment that may reduce the risk of COVID-19.” 

No matter what these new seasons will look like when they arrive, Stony Brook students, student-athletes, coaches and fans now have something to look forward to as they deal with the ongoing effects of the pandemic. With an exact date and guidelines in place, let the countdown begin.

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