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As the start of the fall season in college athletics creeps closer, on Friday the Pac-12 was the latest conference to make a course correction in the face of the ongoing pandemic facing the country.
The Pac-12 announced on Friday that it will move football and all other fall sports to a conference-only schedule in response to the spread of COVID-19. Details of the schedule will be announced no later than July 31.
The Pac-12 is the second Power Five conference to announce it will play only league opponents following the Big Ten’s announcement Thursday. The Atlantic Coast Conference announced Friday that it anticipated a decision on any possible scheduling changes to made in late July.
The Pac-12’s statement Friday said the conference will delay 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.”
The conference also pledged that any student-athlete who decides to opt out of his or her season due to concerns about COVID-19 will have their scholarships honored by their universities.
The decision comes as cases of coronavirus have surged across the country and in the six states where the Pac-12 resides. In his statement, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott implied the move is meant the buy the conference time as it plans for the seasons ahead.
“The health and safety of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports continues to be our number one priority,” Scott said. “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 cancellation of nonconference games means USC football will no longer open the season against Alabama in Arlington, Texas, nor will the Trojans play rival Notre Dame. This season will mark the first season the two rivals don’t play each other since 1945, which marked the end of a three-year pause in the series due to World War II.
With the Alabama and New Mexico games in the first two weeks of the season canceled, USC would theoretically open the season Sept. 19 at Stanford, though the Pac-12 has kept open the possibility of delaying the start of the season further with the new schedule.
UCLA was set to open its football season with three nonconference games, against New Mexico State at home and then on the road against Hawaii and San Diego State. Now the Bruins’ first game on the current schedule is Sept. 26 against Stanford at the Rose Bowl.Related Articles
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