Pac-12 Cancels Football for 2020, Early 2021 Return Possible

The Pac-12 Conference has decided not to play football this year. On Tuesday afternoon, the Pac-12 CEO group voted unanimously to postpone all sports through the 2020 calendar year. It's possible sports could return as early as Jan. 1, 2021, but that will depend on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The health, safety and well-being of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports has been our number one priority since the start of this current crisis," Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement. "Our student-athletes, fans, staff and all those who love college sports would like to have seen the season played this calendar year as originally planned, and we know how disappointing this is." The move comes shortly after the Big Ten Conference deciding to cancel fall sports, including football, for 2020, with a possible return in 2021.

The student-athletes who will be impacted by the postponement will continue to have guaranteed scholarships. The conference also encourages the NCAA to grant students who opt out of competition this academic year an additional year of eligibility. The decision to postpone fall sports was made after talking to the athletic directors and the Pac-12 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee, who expressed concern with student-athletes competing this fall.

"All of the Pac-12 presidents and chancellors understand the importance of this decision, and the disappointment it will create for our student-athletes, the coaches, support staff and all of our fans," University of Oregon President Michael H. Schill said. We certainly hope that the Pac-12 will be able to return to competition in the New Year."

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With the Big Ten and the Pac-12 calling off football this fall, what does this mean for the 2020 season? As of now, the ACC, Big 12 and SEC have no plans to postpone or cancel football this year. One ACC medical expert said football could be played this fall amid the pandemic.

"We believe we can mitigate it down to a level that makes everyone safe," Dr. Cameron Wolfe, a Duke infectious disease specialist and chair of the ACC medical advisory group, said to Sports Business Daily. "Can we safely have two teams meet on the field? I would say yes. Will it be tough? Yes. Will it be expensive and hard and lots of work? For sure."