The Pac-12 Conference has postponed all sports through the end of the year, joining the Big Ten Conference in pushing off the football season but going a step beyond by postponing traditional winter sports, such as basketball.
The decision was made after consultation with athletics directors and with the Pac-12 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee.
Earlier today the Big Ten announced fall sports would be postponed to the following spring, but did not address traditional winter sports.
“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, in a press statement. “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.”
Conference officials say current student-athletes will continue to receive guaranteed scholarships, including academic advising and tutoring. In addition, the conference will ask the NCAA to grant students who opt out of competition this academic year an additional year of eligibility. (An NCAA committee is expected to address this issue tomorrow.) As part of their guaranteed scholarships, they will continue to have university support, among other support services.
“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,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. “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.”
A big factor in the decision to shut down the season, according to Scott, was the realization quarantining student-athletes was not a viable option. Scott noted that while the Conference’s detailed plan to keep student-athletes safe was working in accordance with the Pac-12 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee guidelines and state and local government orders, the situation was becoming more challenging: “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 move is not unexpected; when the Pac-12 released a revised schedule 10 days ago, athletic spokespeople warned that the changes were conditional and that there was still the very real chance play could be scrapped.
And there’s been a whole lot of bad reporting and bad Tweeting about the topic, as folks who should know better tended to use cancel and postpone interchangeably. Technically, both the Big Ten and Pac-12 are postponing the 2020 season to spring 2021, not canceling it. But give coaches credit: Ohio State football coach Ryan Day was frequently cited as opposing any changes to the Big Ten schedule, but he wasn’t: “I would say we cannot cancel the season right now,” Day said on Monday on ESPN2. “We have to at the very (most) postpone it and allow us a little bit of time to keep reevaluating everything that’s going on.”
The Pac-12 is the second Power 5 conference to postpone the 2020 football season to the spring. In the FBS, the Mountain West Conference and the Mid-American Conference have postponed their fall sports seasons to next spring.
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