The Pac-12 announced Tuesday that it is postponing its football season and all fall sports through the rest of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The conference said its Pac-12 CEO Group voted unanimously in favor of the postponement. The decision was made in consultation with the league’s COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee and conference athletic directors.
“The health, safety and well-being of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports has been our number one priority since the start of this current crisis,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement. “Our student-athletes, fans, staff and all those who love college sports would like to have seen the season played this calendar year as originally planned, and we know how disappointing this is.”
The Pac-12 said it will consider playing sports after Jan. 1 if conditions improve. That would include an attempt to play the football season in the spring. The basketball season also won’t start on time in November.
The Pac-12’s announcement came not long after the Big Ten announced the cancellation of football and all fall sports.
The Pac-12 decision-makers were on the same page in terms of what was the best decisions for schools after hearing the medical reports and studying the science.
“All of the Pac-12 presidents and chancellors understand the importance of this decision, and the disappointment it will create for our student-athletes, the coaches, support staff and all of our fans,” said Michael H. Schill, president of the University of Oregon. “Ultimately, our decision was guided by science and a deep commitment to the health and welfare of student-athletes. We certainly hope that the Pac-12 will be able to return to competition in the New Year.”
Scott noted that college sports operate differently from professional sports, and can’t be compared to a league like the NBA, which can isolate its players and coaches in a “bubble” environment.
“Unlike professional sports, college sports cannot operate in a bubble,” he said. “Our athletic programs are a part of broader campuses in communities where in many cases the prevalence of COVID-19 is significant. We will continue to monitor the situation and when conditions change we will be ready to explore all options to play the impacted sports in the new calendar year.”
The decision to postpone also comes just 11 days after the Pac-12 approved a 10-game conference-only schedule that was to begin on Sept. 26.
But Utah coach Kyle Whittingham always felt like that could change.
“We’ve known for some time that this was a possibility,” Whittingham said in a statement about the postponement. “However, it is still disappointing news for our program, our fans and especially for our student-athletes.
“We respect the guidance of the Pac-12 Medical Advisory Committee and the decision made today by the Pac-12 CEO Group, and we will continue to put our focus on our players’ academics and their development. Our number one priority is always the well-being of our players and their health and safety comes first.”
Stanford athletic director Bernard Muir said there are too many unknowns about potential long-term health implications, even for college-age people who are less prone to contract COVID-19.
“The logistical challenges of adhering to the current safety protocols and best practices when traveling and competing against others are still too great to overcome,” Muir said in a statement. “Today’s decision is disappointing for many people, but none more so than our student-athletes, who have worked so hard for so many years to reach this point in their athletics pursuits. I remain hopeful that we will find a way to create an opportunity for them to compete safely in the winter or spring.”
Southern California athletic director Mike Bohn said the presentations made it clear to him that there was no way to move forward with a season.
“In listening to our Pac-12 Medical Advisory Committee present the latest data over the past few days, it became abundantly clear that, despite our gargantuan efforts locally and as a conference, there is too much uncertainty to move forward with athletics, practices and competitions at this time,” Bohn said in a statement.
Two other Football Bowl Subdivision conferences, the Mid-American and Mountain West, previously announced the postponement of football.