In a Tuesday meeting with Pac-12 conference presidents and chancellors, the decision was made to cancel the fall 2020 college football season and postpone all fall sports through the calendar year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The move comes after the NCAA’s Big Ten Conference announced the postponement of all fall semester sports including college football on Tuesday, citing concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic as well. Both conferences hope to play the season in spring 2021 but have not announced any specific plans.
Conference officials said the decision was made after consultations with medical experts, including the Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee. Postponed sports include football, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s cross country and field hockey.
“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,” said Oregon president Michael H. Schill. “Ultimately, our decision was guided by science and a deep commitment to the health and welfare of student-athletes. We certainly hope that the Pac-12 will be able to return to competition in the New Year.”
The Big Ten also said it will “continue to evaluate a number of options regarding these sports, including the possibility of competition in the spring.” Officials have yet to determine whether the conference’s winter and spring sports seasons will take place as scheduled.
The Big Ten is one of the NCAA’s “Power Five” conferences. Its member schools include several college football powerhouses, including the University of Michigan, Penn State University, and Ohio State University.
It’s unclear if Big Ten schools that disagree with the postponement will be permitted to pursue other options, such as breaking away from the conference and forming an alternative schedule with other programs. University of Nebraska head coach Scott Frost said the school had “options” if football season was canceled.
In a statement, Nebraska said it was “very disappointed” with the Big Ten’s decision.
“Safety comes first. Based on the conversations with our medical experts, we continue to strongly believe the absolute safest place for our student-athletes is within the rigorous safety protocols, testing procedures, and the structure and support provided by Husker Athletics,” the school said. “We will continue to consult with medical experts and evaluate the situation as it emerges. We hope it may be possible for our student-athletes to have the opportunity to compete.”
Officials from the Power Five conferences held an emergency meeting earlier this week regarding the fall sports seasons. Pac-12 commissioners are expected to vote on whether their fall sports will move forward by as soon as Tuesday.
The possibility of a postponed or canceled season drew a mixed response this week, with several prominent college football players and head coaches arguing the season should occur as scheduled. Ohio State University head coach Ryan Day and Penn State University head coach James Franklin each spoke out in favor of a season.
Earlier Tuesday, President Trump said it would be a “tragic mistake” if the college football season was canceled.
On Tuesday, Arizona State University held a meeting with the local media. In attendance was Ray Anderson, Vice President for University Athletics, Herm Edwards. head football coach and Dr. Aaron Krasnow, Ph.D., Associate Vice President, ASU Health Services & ASU Counseling Services.
Edwards detailed how he delivered the news to his players. “I think the players were well aware of the temperature in the air, with all the social media outlets they have to grab onto and listen to,” said Edwards. “I just told them the best way to figure things out is, ‘I’ll tell you.’ I think they were well aware that when a decision was made, I was going to tell the outcome had been. Were they disappointed? Yeah. We’re all disappointed.”
Edwards also commended ASU on their tremendous leadership with the health and safety of the athletes in mind when making the decision. Edwards said, “Arizona State staff have never questioned the input of the medical personnel.”
Edwards believes that how they move forward is very important. “We have a schedule right now that we’re on, players will be in the building tomorrow. They’ll be here Thursday and Friday, and we’ll continue to do what we do as we get more information on what type of schedule we go to now as far as our ability to meet, walkthrough and stay in condition. So we’ll figure that out as the week goes by.”
Coach Edwards has a message for those who question the decision:
“The right decision was made: Protect the student-athlete. That’s what this university has always been about, that’s what this conference has always been about.”