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story.lead_photo.caption A basketball sits in a rack at Bud Walton Arena in this undated photo. ( Andy Shupe)

The NCAA Division I Council approved Wednesday a start date of Nov. 25 for the 2020-21 college basketball season.

That is more than two weeks later than the originally scheduled Nov. 10 start to the season. The new opening day of the season was proposed by the NCAA's oversight committees for men's and women's basketball earlier this month.

"The new season start date near the Thanksgiving holiday provides the optimal opportunity to successfully launch the basketball season," NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt said in a news release. "It is a grand compromise of sorts and a unified approach that focuses on the health and safety of student-athletes competing towards the 2021 Division I basketball championships."

The NCAA also reduced the maximum number of regular-season games that can be played by four to 27, and no scrimmages or exhibition games will be allowed. The minimum number of games a team has to play for consideration for the NCAA Tournament was cut from 25 to 13.

Teams can begin preseason practice Oct. 14 and will have 42 days to conduct a maximum of 30 practices. During this time, players can work out up to 20 hours per week and must have one day off. Players may participate in strength and conditioning activities, meetings and skill instruction for up to 12 hours a week from Sept. 21-Oct. 13.

"We're just taking it day by day. We hope to play as early as possible and play as many games as possible," University of Arkansas Coach Eric Musselman said last month. "We're trying to do everything we can on our end to keep healthy. We can only control what we do between our own doors."

The men's team has not begun a season this late since 1994-95 when it opened with a Nov. 25 game against UMass in Springfield, Mass.

The Arkansas men were slated to open the season against Oral Roberts on Nov. 10 in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks were also scheduled to play a pair of games in the MGM Resorts Main Event in Las Vegas on Nov. 20 and 22. The MGM event also was expected to include two on-campus home games in November.

According to game contracts, Arkansas is scheduled to host Northern Illinois on Nov. 28, Texas-Arlington on Dec. 2, Lipscomb on Dec. 5 and Abilene Christian on Dec. 23. The Razorbacks also have scheduled games against Oklahoma in Tulsa on Dec. 12 and Old Dominion in North Little Rock on Dec. 19.

Arkansas is under contract to play at Tulsa on a date to be determined, and an SEC spokesperson said this summer the Razorbacks will also be part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge. The conference challenge has been played in January the past several seasons, but no date has been announced for the upcoming season.

The Razorbacks women have scheduled home games against Baylor on Dec. 6 and Gonzaga on Dec. 13, and are under contract to play the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in North Little Rock on a date to be determined.

Arkansas was under contract to host California in the back end of a home-and-home series, but the status of the game is in limbo because the Pac-12 has canceled all competition through the end of December.

The Division I Council also voted Wednesday to make Election Day an off day for Division I athletes. They will not practice or compete on the first Tuesday after Nov. 1 every year, including 2020.

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