Utah basketball aligned with NCAA — season to begin on Nov. 25

Ryan Kostecka

When news broke on Thursday that the Pac-12 was reversing its original course and playing college football this fall, lost among that announcement were the Utah men's and women's basketball programs.

While the football season is set to begin on Nov. 6 — the last Power 5 conference to get underway — the Utah basketball teams will begin their respective seasons in conjunction with the rest of the NCAA on Nov. 25.

This is huge news for the Utes — and the rest of the Pac-12 — as the CEO group has reversed course from it's original decision on Aug. 11 to postpone/cancel all athletic sporting events until Jan. 1.

The conference was in a way forced to change its decision due to the economic downfall it would've faced should it have elected to not play sports until the New Year. The other four Power 5 conferences all decided to play football this fall and were in line to begin their respective basketball seasons with the NCAA's start date.

According to the Pac-12's statement, the basketball programs can begin official practices on Oct. 14, a full six weeks from when their seasons are set to begin. But the players can continue training in an unofficial capacity right now.

“With all of the unknowns student-athletes from around the country have faced this year, it is exciting to officially be one step closer to our team getting to compete in the sport they love,” Utah women's coach Lynne Roberts said. “I have been really impressed with our team and how they have managed this situation. I know they are chomping at the bit to compete again, and we can’t wait to get the season started. We will continue to work with our university and the Pac-12 to ensure the health and safety of our student-athletes as we continue to move forward together.”

For the men, their biggest preseason tournament was set to be the Battle 4 Atlantis, set to take place on Nov. 25-27 at the Imperial Arena at the Atlantis Paradise Hotel in Nassau, Bahamas. 

But due to the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the world, the Bahamas is no longer a reasonable destination and therefore has canceled the tournament.

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Reports have now surfaced that the tournament — albeit under a different name — is being moved to a different location, most likely the Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Joining Utah are the same teams scheduled to play in the Bahamas: Duke, Creighton, Ohio State, West Virginia, Memphis, Wichita State and Texas A&M.

“It’s a big day for our basketball program, fans and league as a whole. Our team has been working tirelessly at home during this whole pandemic and I couldn’t be more proud of the hard work they’ve put in. It’s been great having them back on campus together and getting them connected for the upcoming season,” Utah men's coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “There hasn’t been a lot of good news since this whole thing started back in March, so this is definitely a win for everyone involved. I know the staff and our players are thrilled and eager to hit the court full swing and get ready for the upcoming season. There is still a lot of work to be done until then, but we’re just happy as everyone else in our conference to know we’ll be playing some basketball come Nov. 25.”

The Pac-12 conference play schedule should be released sometime in October — with the out-of-conference schedule should come together as soon as possible.

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