College sports saw its third Division I conference announce a substantial alteration of its fall athletics landscape, as the Pac-12 indicated Friday evening that it would have conference-only schedules amid the coronavirus pandemic. Impacted sports include Football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball.
“The health and safety of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports continues to be our number one priority,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott, who was also revealed to have recently tested positive for COVID-19 Friday. “Our decisions have and will be guided by science and data, and based upon the trends and indicators over the past days, it has become clear that we need to provide ourselves with maximum flexibility to schedule, and to delay any movement to the next phase of return-to-play activities.”
The Ivy League announced it would halt sports entirely in the fall earlier this week, while the Big 10 announced its shift to a conference-only plan Wednesday.
Student-athletes who decide they would rather hold off on participating in sports at all this year would be allowed to retain their scholarships and status on their respective teams, according to the announcement of the schedule change. “Competitive sports are an integral part of the educational experience for our student-athletes, and we will do everything that we can to support them in achieving their dreams while at the same time ensuring that their health and safety is at the forefront,” said Michael Schill, Pac-12 CEO Group Chair and President of the University of Oregon.
According ESPN, the decision to push back the start of the fall season and move to the conference-only model was driven by concerns that UCLA and Southern Cal would not be able to play games in early September due to the ongoing spike in cases in the Los Angeles area. One of many impacted high profile games on the gridiron is the elimination of a September 5 contest between the Trojans and Alabama, which was set for AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Also gone will be the annual rivalry game between Notre Dame and USC, which hasn’t been skipped since the second world war.
Other significant games impacted in football alone:
BYU at Utah Sept. 3
Oregon State at Oklahoma State Sept. 3
TCU at California Sept. 5
Michigan at Washington* Sept. 5 (was already cancelled due to the Big 10 decision)
USC vs. Alabama (Arlington, TX) Sept. 5
Ohio State at Oregon* Sept. 12
Colorado at Texas A&M Sept. 19
Arizona at Texas Tech Sept. 19
Stanford at Notre Dame Oct. 10
Notre Dame at USC Nov. 28
With two of the “power 5” football conferences calling off non-conference play already this week, college football is facing an increasingly bleak prospect for the 2020 season. The other three conferences in that group – the SEC, ACC and Big 12 – are all remaining in a ‘wait and see’ fashion for the time being.