Pac-12 follows Big Ten’s lead, will only play conference schedule in fall

SAN FRANCISCO — The Pac-12 on Friday became the second Power 5 conference to limit fall sports to a conference-only schedule because of the coronavirus pandemic, following Thursday’s announcement by the Big Ten.

The Pac-12 made its decision after a meeting of university presidents, athletic directors and conference officials, ESPN reported.

In addition, the conference will delay the beginning of all fall sports. That decision was made after concerns arose that USC and UCLA would not be able to play football in early September due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The fall sports affected include football, men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball, the Pac-12 said in a statement.

The decision means USC will not face Notre Dame in football for the first time since World War II. The two teams have played annually since 1926, except for 1943-45 because of the war. Stanford also will lose its game against the Fighting Irish; the two teams have met every year since 1997.

“The health and safety of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports continues to be our number one priority,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said 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.”

“Competitive sports are an integral part of the educational experience for our student-athletes, and we will do everything that we can to support them in achieving their dreams while at the same time ensuring that their health and safety is at the forefront,” said Michael Schill, Pac-12 CEO Group Chair and president of the University of Oregon, KIRO-TV reported.

Several hours after the conference statement, the Pac-12 issued another release, saying that Scott had tested positive for COVID-19 and will self-quarantine.

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