Leaders of the Pac-12 Conference have voted unanimously to move forward with the fall football season, reversing an earlier decision not to play any sports for the remainder of 2020 in response to the CCP virus pandemic.
The Pac-12 announced on Thursday that its football teams will join other Power 5 conferences to play a seven-game season: five against the other teams within the conference, one against an opponent from one of the other conferences, and a final game the weekend of the conference championship game on Dec. 18.
The season is set to start on Nov. 6, with no fans in attendance. The decision to ban spectators will be re-valuated “based upon health and safety considerations” in January 2021.
In addition, the conference announced that men’s and women’s basketball and other winter sports will resume on Nov. 25, which is consistent with the start date set forth by the NCAA previously.
The Pac-12 leaders said the return of fall sports was made possible by relaxed state and local health guidance, as well as enhanced COVID-19 testing capabilities through a deal with Quidel, a company they said will provide regular COVID-19 tests with rapid results.
“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,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said in a press release. “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.”
The Pac-12 is the second Power 5 conference making the reversal on football this month. The Big 10 Conference announced last week that it will kick off the fall football season on the weekend of Oct. 24, with athletes and staff members on the field undergoing COVID-19 tests every day. Both conferences had postponed their fall sports plans in August due to the ongoing pandemic.
Over the past months, the Pac-12 has faced pressure from players and their families, coaches, and President Trump to reverse the halt on sports. Last week, Trump called out Pac-12 officials during a White House press briefing, saying, “I recommend that the Pac-12 get going,” and “there is no reason they should not be playing.”
Trump on Thursday praised the announcement on Twitter, calling it “great news.” “PAC- 12 football is back this Fall!” he wrote. “Congrats to the players, their families, the coaches, and the universities,” Trump tweeted. “The west coast games will kick off soon—You’re welcome!!!”