Pac-12 teams in football and several other fall sports will only play conference games this season because of the coronavirus pandemic, its CEO Group announced Friday.
The decision means USC will not face Alabama Sept. 5 in Arlington, Texas, to open its football season, or play host to Notre Dame Nov. 28 or New Mexico Sept. 12 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The UCLA football team won’t be playing New Mexico State Aug. 29 at the Rose Bowl, Hawaii Sept. 5 in Honolulu or San Diego State Sept. 19 in San Diego.
The decision made following a meeting of the Pac-12 CEO Group Friday will result in the start dates for the impacted sports being delayed.
The CEO Group made clear that it hopes to play football and all other fall sports provided the conference can meet the health and safety needs of its athletes and obtain appropriate permissions from state and local health authorities.
The Pac-12 has developed a series of potential fall sport scheduling models including conference-only schedules and delayed season starts. Details on conference-only schedules will be announced no later than July 31.
The decision also affects men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball.
The conference is also delaying the start of mandatory athletic activities until a series of health and safety indicators, which have recently trended in a negative direction, provide sufficient positive data to enable a move to a second phase of return-to-play activities.
The NCAA announced that mandatory organized team activities for football can begin Monday.
Pac-12 athletes who choose not to participate in intercollegiate athletics during the 2020-21 academic year because of safety concerns about COVID-19 will continue to have their scholarships honored by their universities and will remain in good standing with their team.
“Confronted with an unprecedented global pandemic, in going to a conference-only schedule for fall sports in 2020, the Pac-12 Conference is acting responsibly on behalf of the health and safety of all of our student-athletes, coaches and staff while trying to do everything possible so we can compete this year,” USC athletic director Mike Bohn said.
Bohn said he has communicated Friday’s decision to the athletic directors as Alabama, Notre Dame and New Mexico “and there is no additional information to share at this time.”
UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond said his university “fully supports today’s decision by the Pac-12 CEO Group to delay the start of mandatory athletic activities and to limit fall seasons for several sports to conference-only competition.”
“The health and safety of our student-athletes, staff and fans is paramount, and this move affords us the greatest level of flexibility to adapt and evolve in real time, in the midst of a very fluid situation,” Jarmond said.
The Pac-12’s move to conference-only play comes one day after a similar announcement from the 14-team Big Ten Conference.
“The health and safety of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports continues to be our number one priority,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott.
“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.”
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