Pac-12 postpones all sports through end of year

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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The Pac-12 CEO group voted unanimously Tuesday to postpone all sports, including football and basketball, through the end of the year.

In a statement, the Pac-12 said if conditions related to the coronavirus improve, it would consider a return to competition after Jan. 1, 2021.

"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 postponement applies to all sports that were scheduled to start before the end of the year, which includes winter sports like men's and women's basketball.

Impacted Pac-12 student athletes will continue to have their scholarships guaranteed. The conference is also encouraging the NCAA to grant students who opt out of playing this academic year an additional year of eligibility.

The league's medical advisory group had "concerns that many of its current recommendations cannot be achieved consistently across all universities at this point in time. Currently, the availability of frequent, FDA-approved, accurate testing with rapid turn-around time vary at each of the Pac-12 institution locations. In addition, in many locations within the Conference, community test positivity rates and number of cases per 100,000 in the surrounding community exceed levels which infectious disease and public health officials deem safe for group sports."

The medical advisory group also said, "it is anticipated that over the next few months, rapid point of care tests will become more available and we will have a greater understanding of potential short- and long-term health effects of COVID-19 to better inform medical decision-making."

Scott said in a news conference Tuesday that many factors went into the Pac-12's decision, including the fact that creating a "bubble," as some pro sports have done, was impossible for them.

"[Our student athletes] are part of broader campus communities," Scott said. "Student athletes are living with peer students on campus, interacting, and enough questions and concerns have been raised that we didn't feel comfortable moving forward."

Last month, in the wake of the same decision from the Big Ten, the Pac-12 announced it would proceed with a conference-only football schedule to begin Sept. 26. The Pac-12's decision to postpone the fall schedule Tuesday again follows the same decision from the Big Ten, which announced that it would postpone fall sports about an hour into the Pac-12's CEO group meeting.

"We knew there was a parallel track with the Big Ten also discussing this," said Oregon president Michael Schill, the chair of the CEO group. "We feel good about our decision. We would have made it independent of the Big Ten. We respect the institutions in the Big Ten, many of them have the same values that we have, and we're happy they're joining us."

The CEO group is made up of a chancellor or president from each of the conference's 12 universities and is the ultimate decision-maker for the Pac-12.

It's still unclear how the decisions by the Big Ten and Pac-12 will impact the College Football Playoff. Any decisions about the structure or format of the four-team playoff are made by the CFP board of managers, which is composed of 11 university presidents and chancellors -- including Penn State's Eric Barron and Washington State's Kirk Schulz.

"It's too soon to say what the implications will be," CFP executive director Bill Hancock told ESPN. "We will wait for guidance from the CFP board and management committee."

ESPN's Adam Rittenberg, KyleBonagura and Mark Schlabach contributed to this report.

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