Pac-12 Announces Resumption of Football, Basketball & Winter Sports Seasons
SAN FRANCISCO - 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.
Director of Athletics Jen Cohen:
"I'm extremely excited for our student-athletes, coaches, staff and Husky Nation with today's news," said Jen Cohen, Director of Athletics. "Our students have demonstrated their commitment to a healthy return to sport the last few months while back in our footprint and I'm so happy they can now take this a step further and have the opportunity to compete this fall. I'm just so proud of the way they have handled this situation and the resiliency they have shown each step of the way. We couldn't be more pleased with today's decision by the Pac-12 CEO Group and would like to thank the Pac-12 Medical Advisory Committee for everything they've done to get us to this point. I would also like to recognize our medical team, as well as strength & conditioning staff at the UW for their tireless work the last six months which has allowed us the ability to now return to competition in the safest environment possible. Since the onset, they have prioritized the health and well-being of everyone involved and have exemplified the deep care they have for each of our students."
Football Head Coach Jimmy Lake:
"We are all looking forward to getting back on the field and competing. Everyone in this program is committed to being ready to play our best football. Our medical staff and administration deserve a lot of credit for all of the hard work and dedication they've shown to make this possible"
Men's Basketball Head Coach Mike Hopkins:
"This is incredible news for college basketball. Our medical team, Dr. Drezner and Pat Jenkins along with many others, have not only kept us healthy but have done a great job teaching us how to practice and prepare carefully during this time. We have to thank the Pac-12 for creating the great partnership with Quidel which will make returning to play a reality. Most importantly, this wouldn't have been possible without the Pac-12 CEOs re-evaluating their course based on all the steps that have been made. They've always put the student-athlete's well-being first in their decision-making and because of the new protocols put in place, we are going to be able to compete and get back to a sense of normalcy."
Women's Basketball Head Coach Jody Wynn:
"We couldn't be more excited with today's news. Our players have been so patient and resilient as we've navigated the last few months and we are thrilled about having the opportunity to move forward. I'm grateful to our administration and medical team for all of their work to make this happen. We can't wait to get started."