Pac-12 men's, women's basketball get go-ahead for Nov. 25 start

The Pac-12 Conference announced Thursday that its men's and women's basketball teams can begin their seasons on Nov. 25, the same day as the rest of the country.

The league originally announced it wouldn't play sports until January 2021, but the decision to start football in November opened the door for men's and women's basketball to start on time.

Washington coach Mike Hopkins called the decision "incredible news for college basketball." He also praised the conference's partnership earlier this month with a manufacturer of FDA-approved rapid tests that will allow the league to test its student-athletes daily for COVID-19.

"Most importantly, this wouldn't have been possible without the Pac-12 CEOs reevaluating their course based on all the steps that have been made," Hopkins said. "They've always put the student-athlete's well-being first in their decision-making, and because of the new protocols put in place, we are going to be able to compete and get back to a sense of normalcy."

The NCAA announced earlier this month that men's and women's basketball would begin on Nov. 25. Thursday's announcement from the Pac-12 that its teams could start the same day leaves the Ivy League as the lone Division I conference that has established a start date after Nov. 25. The Ivy has previously said there will be no athletic competition until after the end of fall semester, although it's unclear if it will start basketball with nonconference games in December or wait until January and play only conference games.

The Pac-12 on Thursday said scheduling details will be released in the near future. Several power conferences are planning to expand conference play and start it in December, and the Pac-12 announced last December it was planning to go from 18 conference games to 20 conference games for the 2020-21 season.

Earlier this week, UCLA women's basketball coach Cori Close told ESPN's Graham Hays, "If we get word on Thursday that we're a go, then we're going to meet on Friday as a Pac-12 coaching group to decide sort of the model that we might be operating in, and then we're going to do a mad dash to meet the appropriate needs."

Close, who is also on the Women's Basketball Oversight Committee, added, "There's so many aspects. Do we partner with the men? They've been operating and trying to create several different possible models so that we can expedite the time frame of scheduling the best we can when we do have definitive answers."