Pac-12 returns this November

Vote to return to play was unanimous, Pac-12 commissioner says



The Pac-12 announced plans to start the football season on Nov. 6. Teams will play a seven-game season.

CODY SCHOELER, Evergreen reporter

The Pac-12 announced Thursday that they would play a seven-game conference-only football season starting on the weekend of Nov. 6.

Men’s and women’s basketball would also start on Nov. 25, which is consistent with the return date set by the NCAA.

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said the vote to return to play by the Pac-12 CEO Group was unanimous.

“This has been the result of what we said back in August,” he said. “That we’d follow the science, follow the data, follow the advice from our medical experts.”

The CEO group was supposed to vote last week, but they decided to push it so they could talk with students, staff and faculty, said Michael Schill, University of Oregon president and chair of the Pac-12 CEO Group.

He said he learned from talking to student-athletes that they are desirous to come back and play.

“COVID-19 has taken so much away from these students,” he said. “I didn’t want to take this away from them.”

Schill said the CEO group came to the decision to return to play by weighing the pros and cons of a fall versus a winter season.

“It took us a while,” said Ray Anderson, Arizona State University athletic director. “It was deliberate, it was thoughtful and at times exhausting, but it was necessary to do the right thing.”

Schill said there were a few things that changed since the decision was made to postpone the season in August.

“One thing that didn’t change was our commitment to the health and safety of our students,” he said. “That’s always been paramount.”

Scott said the biggest breakthrough in recent weeks was the partnership with Quidel Corporation and the ability to administer daily COVID-19 tests.

Doug Aukerman, Oregon State University senior associate athletic director for sports medicine, said daily COVID-19 testing gives the conference more confidence in being able to deal with the virus.

“When our student-athletes step on the court or the field for practice, the chances of them spreading COVID to one another diminishes,” he said. “We can’t take it to zero, but it certainly mitigates it.”

Scott said the season will consist of seven games — five against division opponents and two crossover games.

Anderson said the second crossover game will occur during championship weekend to ensure each team plays seven games.

Scott said teams will be permitted to practice as soon as they are permitted to do so by state and local health officials. He also said there will be no fans at any of the games.

There is not a schedule set for the conference yet, he said, but they will clarify an exact schedule by next week.

All the Pac-12 teams will have an opportunity to compete for the College Football Playoff and bowl games, he said, as there will be no minimum game requirement for postseason eligibility.

The conference is still exploring all options for the basketball seasons, he said. They are waiting for testing standards from the NCAA to determine the non-conference schedule.