Sat, 31 Oct 2020

Pac-12 delays decision on football start date

Field Level Media
19 Sep 2020, 12:19 GMT+10

A decision on the fate of Pac-12 football this fall was pushed off until next Thursday.

The conference's presidents and chancellors met Friday afternoon but did not reach a verdict on when the football season might kick off.

A statement was released after the gathering: "The Pac-12 CEO Grouphad an informative and productive meeting earlier today. We plan to reconvene this coming Thursday, September 24 to make a decision regarding possible return to play prior to January 1. The health and safety of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports will continue to be our number one priority in all of our decision making."

The meeting came a day after the San Jose Mercury News reported that the leaders were leaning toward having the football season commence in the fall instead of the spring. Per the report, the conference's athletic directors prefer an Oct. 31 start date.

The Pac-12 announced in August that it was following the lead of the Big Ten and other conferences and would put off fall sports out of safety concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic.

On Wednesday, the Big Ten announced a decision to begin the season in October. And this week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown gave approval for the six teams in their states -- half of the conference -- to begin 11-on-11 practice provided the schools' coronavirus protocols meet local health guidelines.

The Oregonian reported Thursday that the initial decision by presidents and chancellors to postpone all conference sports competition until at least Jan. 1 came "after they saw a presentation that included erroneous statistics that overstated the prevalence of COVID-19 in several of the conference's communities during the first week of August," most glaringly in Los Angeles.

A member of the Pac-12's medical advisory body said the statistics presented -- even without the ones described as erroneous -- still would have led the group to the same recommendation to delay the season.

"The data presented by the Pac-12 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee to the CEO Group was accurately sourced at the time," Dr. Kim Harmon, associate team physician at the University of Washington, told the Oregonian. "To the extent that there were subsequent updates to the reported data by COVID Act Now, state or local dashboards, they would not have changed the overarching recommendation of the Medical Advisory Committee."

The Pac-12 is addressing medical concerns, however. The conference announced on Sept. 3 a deal with Quidel Corp. that will allow for daily and rapid COVID-19 testing of athletes in "close-contact" sports. The testing apparatus is expected to be delivered to each campus by the end of September.

--Field Level Media

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