The Pac-12 Conference will move to a modified, conference-only football schedule for the fall, with an announcement regarding 2020 college football season schedules to come no later than July 31. The news comes one day after the Big Ten announced its own conference-only schedule.
The conference will also delay the start of mandatory athletic activities "until a series of health and safety indicators, which have recently trended in a negative direction, provided sufficient positive data to enable a move to a second phase of return-to-play activities." Athletes who choose not to participate due to concerns about COVID-19 will continue to have their scholarships honored by and will remain in good standing with their team.
Among the games that will no longer be played as the Pac-12 plans to implement a conference-only slate are USC vs. Alabama (Sept. 5, Arlington), Cal vs. TCU (Sept. 5), Washington State vs. Houston (Sept. 12), and Colorado at Texas A&M (Sept. 19). The Big Ten's cancellation of nonconference games nixed Washington vs. Michigan (Sept. 5) and Oregon vs. Ohio State (Sept. 12).
"The health and safety of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports continues to be our number one priority," said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott in a statement. "Our decisions have and will be guided by science and data, and based upon the trends and indicators over the past days, it has become clear that we need to provide ourselves with maximum flexibility to schedule, and to delay any movement to the next phase of return-to-play activities."
The moves to conference-only scheduling were anticipated as college football finishes up its worst week since the nationwide shutdown in mid-March. COVID-19 cases are again spiking across the country as more schools, including North Carolina and Ohio State, are pausing voluntary workouts to help slow the spread of the virus within their respective programs.
On Wednesday, the Ivy League announced it will scrap fall sports and reevaluate whether they can be played after Jan. 1, 2021. Though the Ivy League has its own set of challenges and circumstances that motivated the move -- football loses more money than any other sport in the conference, for example -- there is an ethics argument as well regarding the safety and feasibility of playing fall college football. Though Power Five administrators are continuing to examine all options, spring football has been called a "last resort" by Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour.
According to Dodd, the ACC, which has already pushed Olympic sports back to at least Sept. 1, is also examining a conference-only schedule. The Big 12 and SEC, meanwhile, are in a more wait-and-see mode, though the latter could make a decision to join the conference-only trend later this month.