The Pac 12 Conference has announced a reversal of its decision to suspend all sports until at least January 1, 2021, reinstating football and allowing winter sports to begin in November. Teams will begin play on November 6, pending final approval from local health authorities. Fans will not be allowed at any events, however, until at least January.
Since the August 11 announcement of the Pac 12 suspending all fall sports, “material changes to testing capabilities, the prevalence of COVID-19 and cardiac issues, along with updated state and local health official guidance” precipitated a renewed discussion by conference leadership regarding the possibility of a fall season. The conference CEO Group met last week and went over updated information from the conference medical advisors before voting to resume the sports. Their decision to return to play came uninimously.
“The health and safety of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports remains our guiding light and number one priority,” said Pac-12 CEO Group Chair and University of Oregon President Michael Schill in a release announcing decision. “Our CEO Group has taken a measured and thoughtful approach to today’s decision, including extensive consultation with stakeholders on the evolving information and data related to health and safety.”
With the Pac 12 changing course, all of the so-called “Power 5” conferences will play football in 2020. Three – the ACC, SEC and Big 12 – proceeded with limited schedules from the start of the traditional sports calendar. The Big Ten announced its reversal of its own season cancellation a week ago, returning to play in October.
For football, the resumption of play will take place on November 6. Teams will play a seven game conference-only season followed by a conference championship game on December 18. This means that teams from the conference will be eligible for consideration by the College Football Playoff committee as well as other bowls, should they be played. Basketball season will begin on November 25. Winter sports including wrestling, women’s gymnastics and swimming will determine their competition schedules at a later date. Fall sports besides football will also be allowed to resume play beginning in January of 2021.
“From the beginning of this crisis, our focus has been on following the science, data and counsel of our public health and infectious disease experts,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. “Our agreement with Quidel to provide daily rapid-results testing has been a game-changer in enabling us to move forward with confidence that we can create a safe environment for our student-athletes while giving them the opportunity to pursue their dreams. At the same time, we will continue to monitor health conditions and data and be ready to adjust as required in the name of the health of all.”