ASU Football: The Sun Devils and The Rest of the Pac-12 to Return in November
On Thursday, the Pac-12's CEO group voted to jump-start its fall and winter sports.
According to a statement from the conference, football will return on Nov 6 after six weeks of training camp. The Pac-12 Championship Game will be on Dec 18, but, according to Arizona State athletic director Ray Anderson, all teams will play on that day in order to have each play a seven-game season. Each team will face every opponent in its division, plus one crossover game. Despite a shorter season, commissioner Larry Scott said that a Pac-12 team can still qualify for the College Football Playoff.
"Our schools are going to have the opportunity to be in the conversion, there's no minimum number of games," Scott said during a Zoom press conference Thursday evening. Our schools know that we're going to be able to play a meaningful number of high-level games, with our championship concluding a couple of days before that final CFP meeting."
Basketball, men's and women's, will begin on the NCAA's official start date: Nov 25.
For all sports until the end of 2020, there will be no fans permitted.
According to the statement, the return to play is a result of three factors: "consistent testing capabilities across all Pac-12 universities, the prevalence of the virus in Pac-12 communities and nationally, and concerns related to possible cardiac concerns potentially associated with COVID-19. The decision to resume sports competitions today is based upon updated Medical Advisory Committee recommendations that point to material improvements in each of these three areas, along with updated state and local public health guidance."
University of Oregon President Michael Schill said that the decision was not dictated by potential monetary gain, as he said the athletic departments have already lost a lot more money than they could earn back this year. He said finances were not discussed during the meeting on Thursday.
With the idea of safety in mind, the statement also included seven pages of recommendations, including staff always wearing face coverings, halting team activities if an outbreak occurs and travel recommendations on charter and commercial flights.
Schill said that if play becomes unsafe, the conference could pull the plug once again. He said the Pac-12 would continue to balance the safety of the athletes and their ambitions to play.
Back on Aug 11, the Pac-12 was the second Power Five conference to shut down sports after the Big Ten. It was the last of the group to announce a return. The SEC and Big 12 start football this weekend while the ACC's season is already underway. The Big 10 will start on Oct 23-24.
Schill said that this was not because Pac-12 was "slow."
"I don't think we're behind; I think we are acting deliberately, in the student's best interest," Schill said. "We waited until we were able to protect their health and safety and compared to the Big Ten, the regulatory framework of the west coast are different in the sense that all of the government entities that the Big Ten was working under permitted practice and play whereas two of our major state governments did not (California and Oregon)."
Pac-12 fans had to wait a little longer, but their teams now have a set date to return with thorough safety protocols in place, perhaps ending six months of uncertainty. Anderson said he imagined ASU football coach Herm Edwards jumping for joy.