Pac-12 to Play Conference-Only Football Schedule in Fall 2020

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The Pac-12 announced Friday that it will play a conference-only schedule in fall 2020 for several sports, including football, men's and women's soccer and women's volleyball.

The conference's decision comes one day after the Big Ten announced it would schedule conference-only play this fall. 

"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 move stems from the spiking coronavirus cases in six states with conference members. According to The Athletic's Nicole Auberbach, the Pac-12 came to the decision during a Friday afternoon conference call. 

The league announced that student-athletes who choose not to participate in their respective seasons during the upcoming academic year because of safety concerns related to COVID-19 will continue to have their scholarships honored by their schools.

On Thursday, the ACC announced that each of its fall sports will delay the start of competition until at least Sept. 1. ACC commissioner John Swofford said in a statement Friday the league will "work on the best possible path forward for the return of competition" in a way that "appropriately coincides with our universities' academic mission," adding that the league anticipates a decision by late July.

Per Stadium's Brett McMurphy, ACC football is also expected to play conference-only games. McMurphy adds, if Power 5 schools played conference-only schedules then the ACC would assist Notre Dame with as many games as it needed.

In the case of the Big Ten, ESPN reported if college football can be played this fall, Big Ten administrations preferred to play a conference-only schedule to eliminate some long-distance travel and help ensure teams are being tested for COVID-19 universally. 

According to Sports Illustrated's Pat Forde, the Big Ten's conference-only season will be 10 games.

SEC football coaches held their weekly conference call Thursday morning with league officials and currently have no change in practice or game plans, according to Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger. 

"Until two weeks ago, everybody felt pretty good about starting on time on Sept. 5 and Aug. 29," West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons, the chair of an important law-making NCAA body, the Football Oversight Committee, told Forde and Dellenger. "The last two weeks have really put a wet blanket on that, and we're saying, 'Maybe that’s not going to happen.'"

On Wednesday, the Ivy League announced that it will play no varsity sports for the rest of the calendar year, and it appears it might try and move fall sports to the spring of 2021.

Excluding Big Ten-Pac-12 games, the following football matchups are just some of the key games that will not be played: USC-Notre Dame, Stanford-Notre Dame, Utah-BYU, Oregon-North Dakota State, Colorado-Texas A&M, Cal-TCU and USC-Alabama.

Alabama AD Greg Byrne said in a statement Friday night that,"With the Pac-12's decision to move to a conference-only schedule,  we will do our best to adjust. What that looks like is to be determined." 

Also on Friday evening, the Pac-12 announced that Scott had tested positive for COVID-19 after experiencing mild flu-like symptoms late this week.

Scott is self-quarantining following the positive test result and is continuing to work remotely as normal.