Pac-12 Announces Conference-Only Play, Delay of Mandatory Athletic Activities

Photo Courtesy: McKenna Ehrmantraut

The Pac-12 announced Friday that fall sports will observe a conference-only schedule in 2020, following the announcements by other major conferences this week.

The Pac-12’s announcement comes on the heels of similar moves by the ACC and Big Ten. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, less travel is hoped to be a factor that limits the risk of disease transmission as college sports continue.

The sports specifically covered by the announcement include football, men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball. All athletic activities remain voluntary. Mandatory activities won’t resume, “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.”

“The health and safety of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports continues to be our number one priority,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in a press statement. “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.”

Later in the evening, the conference announced that Scott had tested positive for COVID-19 and will be self-isolating.

The league has developed “a series of potential fall sport scheduling models.” It will provide additional details on them no later than July 31.

Like the ACC and Big Ten announcements, the Pac-12’s member universities have committed to honoring scholarships for student-athletes who choose not to participate in athletics this academic year due to coronavirus concerns.

This announcement hews to one of the two poles of decisions around college sports’ resumption this week. On one hand, conferences like the Ivy League in Division I and Centennial Conference and NESCAC in Division III have cancelled fall sports and delayed the start of the winter season until after the fall semester. The three power conferences that have made statements this week are still trying to limit the damage to make a fall season workable, which would presumably affect the start of winter sports such as swimming in the middle of the fall semester.