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Pac-12 Announces Resumption of Football, Basketball & Winter Sports Seasons

Sep 24, 2020

President Schulz StatementAD Chun StatementCoach Rolovich Statement | Coach Smith Statement | Coach Ethridge Statement

SAN FRANCISCO – Following a vote of the Pac-12 CEO Group Thursday, the Pac-12 Conference announced the 2020 football season will return to play beginning the weekend of Nov. 6-7. Additionally, the conference announced that men's and women's basketball may begin competitions Nov. 25, consistent with the NCAA start dates for these sports.
The Cougars will play a seven game, conference-only football slate and the full 2020 Pac-12 schedule will be announced in the near future.
The Pac-12 CEO Group also noted that all Pac-12 home athletic contests will be hosted without spectators in attendance. In accordance with local and state guidelines, the WSU Pullman Campus will not host tailgating opportunities during the 2020 football season. WSU Athletics will continue to abide by all health and safety policies and protocols that follow campus, Pac-12 Conference, NCAA, local, state and federal guidelines, as well as national best practices.
The Pac-12 CEO Group announced today that based upon updated Pac-12 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee recommendations that take into account material changes to testing capabilities, the prevalence of COVID-19 and cardiac issues, along with updated state and local health official guidance, the Conference will resume its football, basketball and winter sport seasons.  The football season may now commence for those teams that have the necessary state and local health approvals on November 6, men's and women's basketball on November 25 consistent with the NCAA's official start date for these sports, and other winter sports consistent with the NCAA season dates for those sports.  The decision follows a meeting of the CEO Group last week where the Pac-12 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee presented its updated health and safety recommendations (available here), along with the CEO Group having reviewed details on the rollout of the previously announced Quidel daily rapid-results testing program.

For universities utilizing daily antigen testing, at least one weekly PCR test will also be administered for each student-athlete, in addition to all positive tests to be confirmed with a PCR test. All testing recommendations will be reviewed and updated as needed on an ongoing basis.

The August 11 decision of the Pac-12 CEO Group to postpone sport competitions was based upon three central concerns cited by the Medical Advisory Committee: consistent testing capabilities across all Pac-12 universities, the prevalence of the virus in Pac-12 communities and nationally, and concerns related to possible cardiac concerns potentially associated with COVID-19.  The decision to resume sport competitions today is based upon updated Medical Advisory Committee recommendations that point to material improvements in each of these three areas, along with updated state and local public health guidance. 

In addition to the consistent access to sufficient testing across all Pac-12 programs, community prevalence has shown continued improvement in the majority of communities across the Pac-12 footprint. To address concerns regarding potential health outcomes related to the virus, each Pac-12 sports medicine group will be implementing cardiac monitoring protocols for all student-athletes with a positive test. The Pac-12 institutions are also participating in a national COVID-19 cardiac registry which will allow for medical practitioners to monitor closely, and gain greater insight into, potential health outcomes in student-athletes.

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

No fans will be permitted at any sporting competition taking place on Pac-12 campuses.  The decision to not allow fans at competitions will be revisited based upon health and safety considerations in January 2021.

"The health and safety of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports remains our guiding light and number one priority," said Pac-12 CEO Group Chair and University of Oregon President Michael Schill.  "Our CEO Group has taken a measured and thoughtful approach to today's decision, including extensive consultation with stakeholders on the evolving information and data related to health and safety."

"From the beginning of this crisis, our focus has been on following the science, data and counsel of our public health and infectious disease experts," said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott.  "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. 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 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee concluded in its updated recommendations that "the conditions for the resumption of contact/competition can be met by the institutions when antigen testing is available on each campus. We believe access to near-daily rapid point of care testing for contact sports will significantly improve our ability to prevent transmission of COVID during higher risk of transmission activities and reduce the risk of travel."

In the sport of football, Pac-12 universities with the necessary public health approvals may commence practice immediately with a seven game Conference-only season to begin on November 6, and the Pac-12 Championship Game on December 18, enabling Pac-12 teams to be considered for selection by the CFP. The football schedule will be released in the coming days.

In the sport of men's and women's basketball, the season will begin on the NCAA official start date of November 25.  Further details regarding basketball schedules will be released in the near future.

For the Winter sports of wrestling, women's gymnastics, and men's & women's swimming and diving, each university will determine when practice may commence in accordance with local public health official guidance and the situation on campus. Final competition schedules will be released for those sports at a later date. Fall sports for which post-season championships were postponed by the NCAA until the spring will be conducted starting January 2021, with preparation and practice occurring during the fall as permitted by NCAA rules.

In all cases, competition with non-conference opponents will be contingent upon such non-conference opponents implementing minimum testing protocols in accordance with NCAA and Pac-12 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee recommendations.

Statement from WSU President Kirk Schulz
"The Pac-12 CEO Group has been committed from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to doing everything in our power to safeguard the health of our student-athletes. While we all want to provide our student-athletes with the opportunity to compete, we had to be certain that play could commence in a safe manner. I applaud the Pac-12 Conference for taking the concerns of the Pac-12 CEO Group so seriously and coming up with rigorous public health protocols that allow for the safe return to competition."

Statement from WSU Director of Athletics Pat Chun
"At the heart of every decision we have made as an institution and a conference has been the health, safety and wellbeing of our student-athletes, coaches and staff. We are grateful to the Pac-12 CEO Group for its decision to proceed with full athletic activities and competitions. I would like to thank President Kirk Schulz for his continued leadership, guidance and support of our athletics department. His leadership has been instrumental in forging a path for our safe return to competition. I also want to thank our Pac-12 Medical Advisory Committee for its exhaustive work. Going forward, the resiliency and commitment of our Cougar student-athletes should be applauded. They have adapted to unforeseen adversity and have not wavered in their commitment to their respective teams. We look forward to seeing our student-athletes back in their natural habitats of practicing, competing and being extraordinary representatives of WSU."

Statement from WSU Head Football Coach Nick Rolovich
"We appreciate the great university leadership in President Kirk Schulz and Director of Athletics Pat Chun. They have been very supportive of our entire student-athlete population and worked diligently to find a way to return to play. We are excited to lead this group of young men and know they are ready to start preparing for our first game. My admiration for this football team has grown in its ability to remain focused, handle adversity and continue to follow protocols surrounding this pandemic. Their mindset hasn't wavered. Let's Roll!"

Statement from WSU Head Men's Basketball Coach Kyle Smith
"We are excited to hear the news from the Pac-12 CEO Group. We have been working extremely hard staying ready while staying healthy. The wellbeing of our student-athletes is of the utmost importance and I know the standards that are laid out have been created to ensure everyone's safety while getting us back to competition. Today is a great day for all of us in the Pac-12, and we can't wait to get back on the court at Beasley." 

Statement from WSU Head Women's Basketball Coach Kamie Ethridge
"We are very excited about the news today. Thank you to the Pac-12 CEO Group, President Schulz and Athletic Director Pat Chun for their continued work and leadership to get our student-athletes back on the court safely. Our young team has remained diligent in its training and shown great commitment in working together and staying focused during these challenging times. We look forward to beginning our season and watching the huge strides this program makes in the coming months."