Pac-12 Conference Reverses, Will Play Fall Football

September 25, 2020

Leaders in the Pac-12 Conference decided their teams will play football during the fall after all, reversing an Aug. 11 decision not to play any sports for the remainder of 2020, the conference announced Thursday. The Pac-12, which includes major college football programs in the West such as the University of California, Berkeley; the University of Southern California; and the University of Oregon, will play a seven-game season that begins on Nov. 6, a Pac-12 press release said.

The decision is the second reversal on football by a conference in the “Power Five” in the last week. The Big Ten Conference announced on Sept. 17 that its teams would also compete beginning on Oct. 23. The college presidents and chancellors who lead institutions in both conferences had decided in August to postpone all fall sports competition until the end of the year due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

The Pac-12 decision was partially based on improved testing capabilities among member institutions through a conference partnership with Quidel, a company that provides antigen COVID-19 tests with rapid results, the release said. The conference will also have protocols to monitor athletes for myocarditis, a heart condition that some have developed after recovering from COVID-19, the release said. The leaders noted that the prevalence of COVID-19 around Pac-12 institutions “showed improvement” in the last month and state and local public health guidance was relaxed, the release said.

“Our agreement with Quidel to provide daily rapid-results testing has been a game-changer in enabling us to move forward with confidence that we can create a safe environment for our student-athletes while giving them the opportunity to pursue their dreams,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said in the release. “At the same time, we will continue to monitor health conditions and data and be ready to adjust as required in the name of the health of all.”

Football teams at institutions with “the necessary state and local health approvals” can begin workouts and practices immediately, the release said. Men’s and women’s basketball and other winter sports will start at the dates established by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. All Division I fall sports, other than the top football division, will begin in 2021, the NCAA announced Tuesday.

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