USC and UCLA will be playing football, basketball and other fall sports after all.
The Pac-12 Conference, which had earlier suspended all athletic competitions due to the coronavirus pandemic, reversed course Thursday and decided to allow the sports seasons to begin.
The football season will begin Nov. 6, with all teams in the conference playing a seven-game schedule leading up to a Dec. 18 conference championship game. The schedule is expected to be released in the coming days.
Men’s and women’s basketball will begin play Nov. 25. Schedules for other sports, such as wresting, gymnastics, swimming and diving, will be released at a later date.
The decision by the Pac-12 CEO Group followed an announcement earlier this month that the conference had partnered with a diagnostic firm to provide up-to-daily coronavirus testing for student-athletes in contact sports.
“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,” conference Commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement Thursday. “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.”
Although sports will resume play, all competitions will be held without fans in attendance.
“The health and safety of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports remains our guiding light and number one priority,” Pac-12 CEO Group Chair and University of Oregon President Michael Schill said. “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.”
The conference had been facing increased scrutiny in recent weeks, as it was the only remaining major athletic conference not to return to football. The Big 10, which had announced a suspension of its fall athletics on the same day as the Pac-12, previously announced that it had opted to begin its football season.
“We are excited and appreciative for the decision that came from our presidents and chancellors today to start the 2020 football season,” USC football coach Clay Helton said in a statement. “The patience that our university leaders showed has allowed us the time to produce the safest environment possible for our student athletes. We thank the Pac-12 Conference and their medical advisory team for not only supplying the daily testing needed but also the scientific knowledge and advice that led to today’s decision.”
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