It was reported on Thursday that the Pac-12 would likely be following the Big Ten in terms of going forward with a conference-only schedule. That is now official. The conference released a statement Friday evening, saying it is making the change for several sports, including football.
“The health and safety of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports continues to be our number one priority,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. “Our decisions have and will be guided by science and data, and based upon the trends and indicators over the past days, it has become clear that we need to provide ourselves with maximum flexibility to schedule, and to delay any movement to the next phase of return-to-play activities.”
The conference announced it is also delaying the start of mandatory athletic activities, until a series of health and safety indicators, which have recently trended in a negative direction, provided sufficient positive data to enable a move to a second phase of return-to-play activities.
“Competitive sports are an integral part of the educational experience for our student-athletes, and we will do everything that we can to support them in achieving their dreams while at the same time ensuring that their health and safety is at the forefront,” said Michael Schill, Pac-12 CEO Group Chair and President of the University of Oregon.
The decision by these conferences to cancel non conference games is certainly not one that is taken lightly by anyone in the college football world. It impacts not only the schools that are in these major conferences, but also impacts those smaller schools that are set to play these teams. Group of Five and FCS schools are on the hook to take a huge financial hit due to these games being canceled.
After the news of these schedule changes and decisions by major conferences, the future of the entire college football season looks like it could be in jeopardy. However, while no decision has been made as of yet, we could see that soon.
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey was on The Rich Eisen Show in late June and was asked about the future of the 2020 season. Sankey did not have a specific timeline in place, but predicted that the SEC — the biggest conference in college football — would be making its decision in the coming weeks.
“I think that’s probably a late-July time period. My thinking has shifted a bit,” Sankey said. “We started June 8 after a two-week oversight, diagnostic medical exam period for these voluntary activities. We’ll have three or four weeks — on the 13th of July is when a little bit more practice can begin. I think we deserve the chance to see how that progresses. I would say before we get into full-blown practice, you’re going to be in that decision-making process as it relates to what happens on Labor Day weekend, which is the scheduled start of the season.”