The SEC, Big 12 and ACC plan to proceed with football this fall. The Big Ten and Pac-12 are eschewing a season until the spring. Both sides feel like they're doing the right thing, but like many many aspects of the coronavirus pandemic, it's not clear yet whether that's actually the case. One president who knows the inner workings of both sides is Oregon State's F. King Alexander, who also used to be the president at LSU.
In a wide-ranging interview with Nick Dashel of the Oregonian, Alexander dove into not only the process behind the Pac-12's decision to cancel football for the fall, but also how that differs from the SEC's. The Pac-12 pulled the plug on 2020 after its COVID-19 medical advisory committee expressed concern with moving forward with contact practices. The league also released its findings. Point blank, Alexander was asked what the Pac-12 saw in those findings that the SEC didn't in its own guidance, to which he responded "I think, probably, reality."
"Logistically and realistically, it's quite a gamble on their part … a big gamble," Alexander continued. "There are serious consequences if they lose."
There are also serious consequences of choosing not to play. The Oregonian notes a possible $58 million hit to an $80 million athletics budget. A loan program reaching upwards of $1 billion has been discussed for Pac-12 programs as they navigate financial hardships during the pandemic.
But political pressure is a factor, too. That's something Alexander noted schools in SEC country typically have to deal more with than Pac-12 schools. Again, there is no easy answer.
Still, the health and safety for all has to be the foundation of any decision. The heart condition myocarditis emerged as a significant health concern for the Big Ten and Pac-12 -- enough to postpone the biggest athletic moneymaker for these universities. But the question being asked is whether college athletes are safer going through the season where they can be tested regularly and have access to the care they need.
That might prove to be true. Or it might not. At least one Florida State player doesn't feel that's true, for example. At this point, the best any conference can do is wait and see.