The Pac-12 CEO Group announced today that Pac-12 sports will be returning sooner than expected. After announcing back in August that the Pac-12 would not be participating in any sports until January of 2021, a new schedule came out today in which some sports would be allowed to return to official practices more or less immediately.
The initial announcement in August came following concerns by the conference and its universities that participating in sports this fall would unnecessarily put student athletes at an increased risk for COVID-19. In today’s release, the Pac-12 says that it feels more comfortable now that the precautionary measures which are in place to keep students safe will be sufficiently effective at protecting the students.
Pac-12 football and basketball are the only sports that have hard start dates for competition in this new schedule. Football will be returning on November 6th, with a 7 game season. Most importantly for Pac-12 football, the 7 game season with a conference championship will allow Pac-12 teams to be considered for the College Football Playoffs. Additionally, men’s and women’s basketball will be permitted to begin competition on November 25th, which is consistent with start of the existing NCAA basketball schedule. The Pac-12 is still standing firmly with its decision not to allow fans at sporting events until at least January 2021.
For the other winter sports, which include wrestling, swimming & diving, and women’s gymnastics, their timeline for the return to practice is blurrier. The new schedule from the Pac-12 essentially puts the decision as to when to allow those sports to resume in the hands of each university. According to the release, “each university will determine when practice may commence in accordance with local public health official guidance and the situation on campus.” Moreover, the final competition schedule for these winter sports will be released at a later date. Importantly, the Big Ten announced earlier today that swimming & diving will not be starting to have meets until Janaury 1st of 2021. While we won’t know for sure until the final schedule for Pac-12 swimming and diving is announced, based off today’s release, it seems plausible that we could see Pac-12 swim meets before 2021.
For the other fall sports which have had the NCAA post-season championships postponed until spring, their regular seasons will remain postponed until at least January 2021.
Pat Forde pointed out on Twitter following the Pac-12 announcement that only two Division I conferences have yet to announce their plan to resume Football at some point this fall. The Mountain West Conference is expected to announce that decision tonight, and the MAC is set to meet tomorrow.
With Pac-12 announcement wrapped, Mountain West news still coming tonight. Expectation is that they also opt in for a fall season, which would make 9/10 leagues back onboard. The 10th, the MAC, scheduled to meet tomorrow.
— Pat Forde (@ByPatForde) September 25, 2020
Here is the audio recording of the announcement by the Pac-12:
Here is the full press release by the Pac-12.