Pac-12 CEO group votes to resume football, basketball and winter sports

Football is scheduled to begin on Nov. 6, and men's and women's basketball will begin on Nov. 25

The Pac-12 CEO group voted Thursday to resume football, basketball and winter sports in 2020, reversing a prior decision made in August to postpone all sports until the end of the calendar year.

"This has been the result of following the science, the data, the advice from medical experts," Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in a Zoom conference Thursday with media. "We know how badly our student-athletes want to compete... we are really excited to (return to) play."

The football season will consist of seven games against conference opponents for each team, according to a statement made by the conference Thursday.

The Pac-12 plans to start the season on Nov. 6 as long as teams "have the necessary state and local health approvals," and men's and women's basketball will begin on Nov. 25, according to the statement.

Each university will determine the start dates of wrestling, women's gymnastics, men's and women's swimming and diving following their respective local public health ordinances.

Fans will not be permitted to attend any athletic competitions on Pac-12 campuses, but the decision will be re-evaluated in January, according to the statement.

"(Everyone) was relentless in terms of protecting the interests of our student-athletes," ASU Vice President for University Athletics Ray Anderson said in the Zoom conference. "It kept us all much more calm and confident we would get to the right outcome. It's a real testament to the way this conference works."

The Pac-12 partnered with Quidel Corporation to develop rapid COVID-19 testing for student-athletes, something Scott said in the statement was a "game-changer" in moving forward with the decision.

"The advent of the daily testing and the advent of our ability to get PCR backbone testing that quickly along with the antigen testing, to ensure that when our athletes step on the court or the field for practice, that the chances of them spreading COVID to one another diminishes," Dr. Doug Aukerman, chair of Pac-12's Medical Advisory Committee, said in the Zoom conference.

Student-athletes at universities using daily antigen testing will receive at least one PCR test weekly, according to the statement. All positive COVID-19 tests will be re-confirmed with a PCR test.

The CEO group did consider having a winter season for football instead of trying to force one in during the fall. However, they concluded that it would not be a feasible option to take.

"With respect to football, there was agreement that these advances permitted either a fall or a winter season," the statement said. "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."

Pac-12 CEO Group Chair and University of Oregon President Michael Schill affirmed that the health and safety of student-athletes was the board's primary concern.

“The health and safety of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports remains our guiding light and number one priority,” Schill said in the statement. “Our CEO Group has taken a measured and thoughtful approach to today’s decision.”

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