A fall football season will be on the agenda when Pac-12 presidents and chancellors meet Friday afternoon, and they likely will give the go-ahead for teams to play earlier than expected.
Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News said the leaders probably won’t emerge from the meeting with an announcement of a start date but rather their agreement for football games to be played this fall instead of the spring. Still, Wilner said, athletic directors in the conference 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