Indiana University’s 2020-21 academic year plan could have adverse impact on IU basketball

If you are a regular at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, you have come to know one variable that can significantly change the energy level in the building.

While the impact has seemed to wane in recent years, when the students are on campus IU’s home court advantage can ramp up a notch or two.

An announcement today by Indiana University will significantly reduce the amount of days that students are on campus during the upcoming academic year.  As a result, there will be several more IU basketball home games in Bloomington with no students in attendance.

In his latest message, IU President Michael McRobbie announced the university’s plans for resuming in-person and online instruction in the fall 2020 semester along with a revised calendar for the academic year.

A new winter session from Nov. 30 to Feb. 8 will be online-only for students.  The winter session will span both the fall and spring semesters.  Once students leave campus for Thanksgiving on or around Nov. 20, they will not return until early February.

The ultimate impact of the school’s new format on IU basketball home games could be mitigated by a couple factors.

First, Indiana does not project to have a significant amount of home games during the new periods when students will not be on campus.

A look at IU’s projected 2020-21 schedule (see below) suggests that perhaps only one Big Ten home game during December and then what will likely be a non-conference game on or around Dec. 12 will be impacted by the new winter session.

Indiana is scheduled to be on the road for the Maui Invitational during Thanksgiving break, and they should play on the road for the Big Ten / ACC Classic the following week.  Also in between the Thanksgiving and normal winter breaks will be a Big Ten road game and the Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis.

IU is also likely to have two to four home games during the spring semester at a time when students are still off campus for the winter session (i.e. Jan. 19 to Feb. 8).

A second mitigating factor could stem from whatever decisions are made regarding the amount of fans allowed to attend basketball games this winter.  Obviously this a great unknown, but it seems unlikely sitting here today that schools will allow for full capacity crowds.  In such a case, generating an imposing environment for home games would be a challenge with or without students.

Indiana has normally offered mini-series ticket packages to fill the student section during the breaks.  Provided that fans are allowed to attend games up to capacity, the IU athletic department could offer more games in the package in 2020-21.

Alternatively, if less than full capacity crowds are allowed, season ticket holders might be assigned to the student section during the winter session.


This is a rough sketch of how the 2020-21 schedule should look.  See more here.

  • Nov. 10 – TBD 1 (home)
  • Nov. 13/14 – TBD 2 (home)
  • Nov. 16/17/18/19 – Gavitt (location unknown)
  • Nov. 23-25 – Maui (three games)
  • Nov. 30/Dec. 1/2 – Big Ten/ACC (road)
  • Dec. 4/5/6 – Big Ten 1 (1 home/ 1 road)
  • Dec. 8/9/10 – Big Ten 2 (1 home/ 1 road)
  • Dec. 12 – vs. TBD 3 (home)
  • Dec. 19 – vs. Butler (Indianapolis)
  • Dec. 22 – vs. Nebraska-Omaha (home)
  • Dec. 29 – vs. Robert Morris (home)
  • Jan. – Mar. – Big Ten games 3-20

THE 2020-21 IU ACADEMIC YEAR (per McRobbie’s message)

The 2020-21 academic year will run from Aug. 24 to May 9 as originally planned but will now be in three parts:

  1. The Fall Semester, which will run from Aug. 24 through Dec. 20. Classes may be in-person or online until Thanksgiving week (Nov. 20), when all in-person instruction will end. The rest of the semester will be online only. There will be no Fall break.
  2. Campuses will have the flexibility to use the online-only period (Nov. 30 to Feb. 8 – a new Winter Session) in various ways: to finish fall semester courses, to begin spring semester courses, or to create new intensive courses that use either or both the December and January online periods.
  3. The Spring Semester will begin with online only instruction on Jan. 19 and then resume in-person instruction on Feb. 8. The semester will run to May 9 without a Spring break.

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