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Pac-12 Postpones Fall Football Season Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

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The Pac-12 has postponed its fall football season because of COVID-19 concerns, the conference announced Tuesday.

The conference said all sports are postponed through the 2020 calendar year. It will consider returning to competition for impacted sports after Jan. 1, 2021, which could affect winter sports like non-conference basketball.

"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," Michael H. Schill, Oregon's president, said in a statement. "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 Pac-12's decision was the second domino to fall in less than two hours after the Big Ten postponed fall sports, including football, on Tuesday afternoon and said it will attempt to hold competitions in the spring.

With both conferences opting out, there's pressure on the rest of the Power 5 schools to follow suit, according to Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger. The Big 12 reportedly holds the key to whether anyone at the Football Bowl Subdivision will play America’s most popular sport in 2020.

There was plenty of pushback in college football for conferences to carry on this fall. The Big Ten's postponement followed an intense lobbying campaign within the conference to carry on this fall. Coaches like Ohio State's Ryan Day and Nebraska's Scott Frost suggested their teams would look elsewhere to play if needed, while Michigan's Jim Harbaugh released a letter stating that the Wolverines would not "cower" from the virus.

A group of Power 5 football players also announced Sunday that they hope to create a College Football Players Association. The "We Want to Play" hashtag began circulating on social media, and top quarterbacks like Ohio State's Justin Fields and Clemson's Trevor Lawrence were among its supporters.

The Pac-12 didn't experience the same lobbying effort, and Dellenger reports the league's decision "had been seen as a high probability for quite some time."

The conference was slated to open a 10-game conference-only football schedule on Sept. 26 amid the pandemic.