BREAKING: Patriot League announces men’s and women’s 2021 basketball schedules

Both teams will play a 16-game season beginning Jan. 2, face just five opponents

BREAKING: Patriot League announces men’s and women’s 2021 basketball schedules
The AU Athletics Center in Bender Arena.

On Monday, the Patriot League released its plans for conference-only men’s and women’s basketball seasons starting on Jan. 2, 2021.

According to the Patriot League, conference play will be contingent on the league and its member institutions being able to conduct competition in ways that protect the health and safety of student-athletes, coaches, staff and their communities.

"We have accomplished the first step in the planning process for the 2021 Patriot League men's and women's basketball season," said Lafayette College President Alison Byerly, chair of the Council of Presidents, per the press release. "The Council of Presidents places the highest value and priority on League competition and we believe this model offers the best opportunities for us to conduct a safe and successful League season."

The 16-game schedule format features a season with reduced travel and overnight stays, with no team permitted to fly in between games. Each team will play against either four or five other teams, but face those opponents more frequently. 

“All health and safety measures related to intercollegiate participation are being conducted in alignment with university leadership and in coordination with DC Department of Health regulations, Patriot League policy and NCAA guidelines,” said AU Athletics Director Billy Walker.

The American University men’s and women’s basketball teams will be slotted into a “mini-conference,” with Loyola University Maryland and the Naval Academy, having both teams play six games against Loyola and four against the Navy. They will also play two games each against Lafayette College, Lehigh University and Bucknell University to complete the rest of the schedule.

These teams are close in geographical proximity to limit travel. Schools will play the same opponent on back-to-back days, one at home and one on the road, primarily on Saturdays and Sundays.

The regular season is scheduled to end on Feb. 21, 2021, with the Patriot League designating the last weekend of February and, if necessary, the first week of March as times to play potential makeup games in case of an outbreak. The Patriot League Tournaments will include eight teams as opposed to the usual ten, and are scheduled to begin on March 6 and 7, with the championship game taking place on March 14 for both the men's and women’s teams. 

When the season starts in January, it will have been almost 10 months since the last basketball game for either team. To Walker, a return to competition will be a much needed jolt of energy for both the athletes and fans.

“The ability to safely conduct intercollegiate athletics is vital to the physical and mental well-being of our student-athletes and provides us an opportunity to fulfill our role as a critical component of the university’s mission,” Walker said. “Additionally, a return to competition will lift the spirits of Eagle fans around the world.”

In addition to releasing the basketball schedule, the Patriot League announced the rescheduling of the 2021 swimming and diving championships to April 21-24, and announced that a decision will come in the coming weeks on formats for the 2021 indoor track and field championships that are currently scheduled for Feb. 27-28.

For fall sports, which were canceled in July, the Patriot League approved university planning for fall teams having competitive seasons under specific guidelines. Student-athletes will return to campus for the second semester at the same time as the student body, in accordance with institutional protocols and timelines; the competitive schedule will be reduced to meet the requirements to qualify for NCAA championships; overnight stays or air travel are prohibited; and Patriot League championship brackets will be reduced, based upon the sport.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

abranch@theeagleonline.com

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