Pac-12 follows Big Ten's lead and won't play non-conference games in 2020

Nick Bromberg
·5 min read

Another Power Five conference has canceled its teams’ non-conference football games.

Days after the Big Ten said its teams would only play other teams within the conference in all fall sports — if those sports seasons happen — the Pac-12 is following suit. The conference is set to announce later Friday that it will play a conference-only schedule in 2020, Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel can confirm. The Athletic first reported the news.

The Pac-12’s decision extends to all sports like the Big Ten’s. It’s also postponing the start of mandatory athletic activities for all fall sports “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.”

[ Coronavirus: How the sports world is responding to the pandemic ]

There was no indication in the statement when that postponement could end.

“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.”

The Big Ten’s decision to cancel non-conference games left Oregon (Ohio State) and Washington (Michigan) without their marquee non-conference opponents for the 2020 season.

The Pac-12 said details on the conference-only schedules would be released no later than July 31.

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott tests positive for COVID-19

Scott, who had experienced flu-like symptoms earlier this week, tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday, the Pac-12 announced. He is now self-quarantining, but is “continuing to carry on his duties remotely as normal.”

There were more than 3.1 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States as of Friday afternoon, according to The New York Times, and more than 133,000 deaths attributed to it. The country set a new single-day record on Thursday, too, recording more than 59,800 new cases alone.

ACC, Big 12 and SEC waiting

The Pac-12 likely won’t be the only conference following in the Big Ten’s lead. With two of the 10 FBS conferences now playing conference-only schedules in the fall it doesn’t make a ton of sense for other conferences to try to play a full 12-game season as normal. The Big 12 and the ACC said Friday that they’ll make their decisions regarding their schedules in late July.

“The health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches and administrators remains the ACC’s top priority,” ACC commissioner John Swofford said in a statement. “As we continue to work on the best possible path forward for the return of competition, we will do so in a way that appropriately coincides with our universities’ academic missions. Over the last few months, our conference has prepared numerous scenarios related to the fall athletics season. The league membership and our medical advisory group will make every effort to be as prepared as possible during these unprecedented times, and we anticipate a decision by our Board of Directors in late July.”

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said Thursday that his conference’s decision would be made in the “coming weeks.” USC was set to open the season against Alabama. Crimson Tide athletic directoor Greg Byrne issued a statement about the game’s cancellation after the Pac-12 news.

While the Pac-12 and Big Ten have made their decisions in the name of greater flexibility during the coronavirus pandemic, small schools relying on paydays from non-conference games with schools in the two conferences are adversely affected financially. For example, New Mexico State was set to make a combined $2.7 million from its games at UCLA and Florida. As an independent without a football conference, the school relies on those buy games to help prop up the athletic department’s budget.

BYU is also seriously affected by the Pac-12 and Big Ten’s choice to go conference-only. The Cougars lost games against Michigan State and Minnesota on Thursday and were also scheduled to play Arizona State, Stanford and Utah. That’s nearly half the Cougars’ schedule.

Here’s a list of all the non-conference football games that Pac-12 teams were set to play in 2020.

Arizona

Aug. 29: Hawaii

Sept. 5: Portland State

Sept. 19: Texas Tech

Arizona State

Sept. 3: Northern Arizona

Sept. 12: UNLV

Sept. 19: BYU

Cal

Aug. 29: UNLV

Sept. 5: TCU

Sept. 12: Cal Poly

Colorado

Sept. 5: Colorado State

Sept. 12: Fresno State

Sept. 19: Texas A&M

Oregon

Sept. 5: North Dakota State

Sept. 12: Ohio State (already canceled)

Sept. 19: Hawaii

Oregon State

Sept. 3: Oklahoma State

Sept. 12: Colorado State

Sept. 19: Portland State

Stanford

Sept. 5: William & Mary

Oct. 10: Notre Dame

Nov. 28: BYU

UCLA

Aug. 29: New Mexico State

Sept. 5: Hawaii

Sept. 19: San Diego State

USC

Sept. 5: Alabama

Sept. 12: New Mexico

Nov. 28: Notre Dame

Utah

Sept. 3: BYU

Sept. 12: Montana State

Sept. 19: Wyoming

Washington

Sept. 5: Michigan (already canceled)

Sept. 12: Sacramento State

Sept. 19: Utah State

Washington State

Sept. 3: Utah State

Sept. 12: Houston

Sept. 19: Idaho

PAC-12 logo at Sun Devil Stadium during second half of an NCAA college football game between Arizona State and Kent State, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)
PAC-12 logo at Sun Devil Stadium during second half of an NCAA college football game between Arizona State and Kent State, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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