The Pac-12 Conference is reportedly inching closer to a return. California Governor Gavin Newsom and Oregon Governor Kate Brown said Wednesday that state public health officials will allow for contact practice and return to competition.
The announcements cleared a major hurdle for the conference, pushing the decisions to the local level. As a result, schools are now allowed to deal directly with local health officials on safety protocols.
According to Jon Wilner of the Mercury News, USC athletic director Mike Bohn and UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond did just that on Wednesday evening, holding a joint Zoom call with Los Angeles County health officials to clear a path for the teams to begin practicing.
Per the report, the meeting went so well that the teams are preparing to full-squad practices once it is approved by Pac-12 presidents, which could come as early as Friday.
According to ESPN’s Heather Dinich, the Pac-12 season could begin as early as late October if the league’s schools in California and Oregon can get clearance from local health officials.
Wilner previously reported that the Pac-12 CEOs are scheduled to meet on Friday, where they will discuss the latest developments and issues surrounding the football and basketball seasons.
Following the Big Ten’s announcement on Wednesday, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott issued a statement indicating the league still had some major hurdles to clear due to state and local guidelines preventing teams from starting contact practice.
Newsom disputed Scott’s statement, saying that the Pac-12 is not prevented from playing games based on the state’s guidelines. Wilner pointed out that Newsom’s comments seemed to contradict the guidelines that are actually in place, which require teams to train in cohorts consisting of no more than 12 individuals. But Wilner later reported that Newsom’s office reached out to USC officials with the hope of fast-tracking a revision to that policy.
Shortly after that report, Scott issued a statement on Wednesday evening in response to Newsom and Brown saying they will allow for contact practice and return to competition.
“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,” the statement read.
“We appreciate Governor Newsom’s and Governor Brown’s support, the former of which is consistent with the very productive conversation that he and I had earlier today. Our California and Oregon universities will now each individually and immediately 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.”