SAN FRANCISCO – Finally, after months of speculation and uncertainty, there’s going to be some football played in the Pac-12 Conference this year. Instead of a full slate of 12 or 13 games, a seven-game schedule will have to do. Thank you, very much.
The Pac-12 CEO Group announced that based upon updated Pac-12 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee recommendations that take into account material changes to testing capabilities, the prevalence of COVID-19 and cardiac issues, along with updated state and local health official guidance, the Conference will resume its football, basketball and winter sport seasons.
The football season may now commence for those teams that have the necessary state and local health approvals on November 6, men’s and women’s basketball on November 25 consistent with the NCAA’s official start date for these sports, and other winter sports consistent with the NCAA season dates for those sports.
For universities utilizing daily antigen testing, at least one weekly PCR test will also be administered for each student-athlete, in addition to all positive tests to be confirmed with a PCR test. All testing recommendations will be reviewed and updated as needed on an ongoing basis.
The August 11 decision of the Pac-12 CEO Group to postpone sport competitions was based upon three central concerns cited by the Medical Advisory Committee: consistent testing capabilities across all Pac-12 universities, the prevalence of the virus in Pac-12 communities and nationally, and concerns related to possible cardiac concerns potentially associated with COVID-19. The decision to resume sport competitions today is based upon updated Medical Advisory Committee recommendations that point to material improvements in each of these three areas, along with updated state and local public health guidance.
In addition to the consistent access to sufficient testing across all Pac-12 programs, community prevalence has shown continued improvement in the majority of communities across the Pac-12 footprint. To address concerns regarding potential health outcomes related to the virus, each Pac-12 sports medicine group will be implementing cardiac monitoring protocols for all student-athletes with a positive test.
The Pac-12 institutions are also participating in a national COVID-19 cardiac registry which will allow for medical practitioners to monitor closely, and gain greater insight into, potential health outcomes in student-athletes.
With respect to football, there was agreement that these advances permitted either a fall or a winter season. After extensive discussion of the relative merits of the two approaches, a strong preference emerged for a fall season, and the CEOs unanimously agreed to proceed with that schedule.
No fans will be permitted at any sporting competition taking place on Pac-12 campuses. The decision to not allow fans at competitions will be revisited based upon health and safety considerations in January 2021.
“The health and safety of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports remains our guiding light and number one priority,” said Pac-12 CEO Group Chair and University of Oregon President Michael Schill. “Our CEO Group has taken a measured and thoughtful approach to today’s decision, including extensive consultation with stakeholders on the evolving information and data related to health and safety.”
“From the beginning of this crisis, our focus has been on following the science, data and counsel of our public health and infectious disease experts,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. “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. 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.”
The Pac-12 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee concluded in its updated recommendations that “the conditions for the resumption of contact/competition can be met by the institutions when antigen testing is available on each campus. We believe access to near-daily rapid point of care testing for contact sports will significantly improve our ability to prevent transmission of COVID during higher risk of transmission activities and reduce the risk of travel.”
In the sport of football, Pac-12 Conference universities with the necessary public health approvals may commence practice immediately with a seven-game conference-only season to begin on Nov. 6, and the Pac-12 Championship Game on Dec. 18, enabling Pac-12 teams to be considered for selection by the CFP. The football schedule will be released in the coming days.
In the sport of men’s and women’s basketball, the season will begin on the NCAA official start date of Nov. 25. Further details regarding basketball schedules will be released in the near future.
For the winter sports of wrestling, women’s gymnastics, and men’s & women’s swimming and diving, each university will determine when practice may commence in accordance with local public health official guidance and the situation on campus. Final competition schedules will be released for those sports at a later date.
Fall sports for which post-season championships were postponed by the NCAA until the spring will be conducted starting January 2021, with preparation and practice occurring during the fall as permitted by NCAA rules. In all cases, competition with non-conference opponents will be contingent upon such non-conference opponents implementing minimum testing protocols in accordance with NCAA and Pac-12 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee recommendations.
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