By Michelle Brutlag Hosick
Men’s basketball teams will be allowed to begin their first practice – celebrated at many schools with Midnight Madness events – possibly up to two weeks earlier than in the past, under a proposal advancing in Division I.
The Legislative Council this week amended and approved a long-tabled measure that will now allow men’s basketball teams to conduct 30 days of practice in the six weeks before their first regular-season game. Past practice has been in the roughly four weeks before the regular season.
Members also adopted a separate proposal that eliminated the requirement that the first practice begin no earlier than 5 p.m. on the first allowable day, preferring to allow schools to exercise their own best judgment when considering appropriate start times.
Currently, the earliest men’s basketball teams can start practice is 5 p.m. on the Friday nearest to October 15. Women’s basketball teams begin no earlier than 40 days before the first regular-season game, with a limit of 30 days of practice.
If the Board of Directors takes no action at its May 2 meeting, the proposals will be in effect for the start of practice this fall.
The measures had been tabled since April 2012, when the Legislative Council tabled the bulk of the proposals in that year’s cycle to allow the Rules Working Group to fulfill its charge of making the Division I rulebook more meaningful, enforceable and supportive of student-athlete success.
The rule creates a flexible preseason practice schedule that allows practice days and off days instead of the current schedule that leads to practice occurring every possible day. The more flexible approach provides coaches with the ability to determine how to use practice opportunities.
The original proposal allowed practice to start 40 days before the first game, but the Council members adjusted the rule to accommodate for Midnight Madness events often planned around the first men’s basketball practice. Because a significant number of teams start playing games on the first day the rules allow it (the second Friday in November), the first day for practice would fall on a Sunday, which is not conducive to Midnight Madness events. Expanding the time period to 42 days allows the first practice to be held on a Friday.
The Women’s Basketball Coaches Association expressed preference to maintain its current 40-day period as an expansion posed potential conflicts with a weekend when recruiting can occur.