The messaging surrounding Pac-12 Conference football shifted significantly Wednesday.
Conference commissioner Larry Scott released a statement noting that California governor Gavin Newsom and Oregon governor Kate Brown have each removed restrictions that would have prevented teams in those states from competing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Pac-12 welcomes today’s statements by Governor Newsom of California and Governor Brown of Oregon that state public health officials will allow for contact practice and return to competition, and that there are no state restrictions on our ability to play sports in light of our adherence to strict health and safety protocols and stringent testing requirements, including our recently announced partnership with Quidel which will enable daily rapid results testing,” Scott’s statement reads.
Scott said that the next step toward the Pac-12 playing football, which was postponed Aug. 11, this fall is to have the member universities in California and Oregon — which include USC, UCLA, Oregon, Oregon State, California and Stanford — “reach out to their relevant county public health officials to seek clarification on what is required to achieve the same clearance to resume contact practice and competition. We are eager for our student-athletes to have the opportunity to play this season, as soon as it can be done safely and in accordance with public health authority approvals.”
According to The Mercury News, the USC and UCLA athletic directors held a Zoom call with Los Angeles County health officials Wednesday, and came away encouraged that they could participate if the Pac-12 votes to resume sports.
ESPN’s Heather Dinich reported that the Pac-12 football season could begin in late October. The Pac-12’s momentum came the same day the Big Ten presidents and chancellors voted to start an eight-game college football season on Oct. 23-24. When making its announcement, the Big Ten stressed the improvement in COVID-19 testing capabilities. That leaves the Pac-12 as the lone Power 5 Conference not scheduled to play football this fall.
Related content: Big Ten Votes to Kick Off Football Season in October
The Pac-12’s decision to postpone football has gone a little under the radar, as the public has focused on the Big Ten providing insufficient information in its announcement. When the Pac-12 announced Aug. 11 that it was postponing all fall sports through the end of 2020, University of Oregon president Michael H. Schill said, “Our decision was guided by science and a deep commitment to the health and welfare of student-athletes.”
Related content: Big Ten, Pac-12 Cancel Fall Sports
The COVID-19 pandemic has already had a significant impact on the college landscape, and would lead to even more budget deficits and staffing cuts if football isn’t played this fall.
Related content: Ducks Consider Spring Football as Budget Woes Grow