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.”
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.
Aug. 29: Hawaii
Sept. 5: Portland State
Sept. 19: Texas Tech
Sept. 3: Northern Arizona
Sept. 12: UNLV
Sept. 19: BYU
Aug. 29: UNLV
Sept. 5: TCU
Sept. 12: Cal Poly
Sept. 5: Colorado State
Sept. 12: Fresno State
Sept. 19: Texas A&M
Sept. 5: North Dakota State
Sept. 12: Ohio State (already canceled)
Sept. 19: Hawaii
Sept. 3: Oklahoma State
Sept. 12: Colorado State
Sept. 19: Portland State
Sept. 5: William & Mary
Oct. 10: Notre Dame
Nov. 28: BYU
Aug. 29: New Mexico State
Sept. 5: Hawaii
Sept. 19: San Diego State
Sept. 5: Alabama
Sept. 12: New Mexico
Nov. 28: Notre Dame
Sept. 3: BYU
Sept. 12: Montana State
Sept. 19: Wyoming
Sept. 5: Michigan (already canceled)
Sept. 12: Sacramento State
Sept. 19: Utah State
Sept. 3: Utah State
Sept. 12: Houston
Sept. 19: Idaho
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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