Governor Newsom Says California Guidelines Don't Prevent Pac-12 From Playing Football
A breakthrough as to whether the Pac-12 might play football this fall may have occurred Wednesday when California Governor Gavin Newsom said that there is nothing in the California health guidelines that would prevent Pac-12 teams from playing football games.
“I want to make this crystal clear,” Newsom said, according to the National Post. “Nothing in the state guidelines denies the ability for the Pac-12 to resume. That’s been a misrepresentation of the facts.”
This is different from the perception that most people had of the California guidelines, which seemed to suggest that college football games could not be played under the state's current COVID-19 rules.
Oregon governor Kate Brown made a similar statement Wednesday, and Pac-12 commissoner Larry Scott sees these comments as a postive sign:
"Our California and Oregon universities now wil each individually and immediately reach out to their relevant county public health officials to seek clariication on what is required to achieve the same clearance to resume contact practice and competition,: Scott said.
How Alameda County and City of Berkeley helth officials respond will be critical.
USC football players wrote a letter to Newsom asking him to ease restrictions to allow California Pac-12 teams to play games. And on Wednesday, Arizona players wrote a letter to Newsom with the same message. Having players from a school not in California lobby the California governor indicates the significance California's rulings have on Pac-12 football.
While Newsom's statement seems to clear some of the barriers for the Pac-12 to play football in the fall, it does not erase all of them.
It remains unclear whether the governor would remove cohort restrictions to 12 players, a major hurdle that needs to be cleared before teams can have regular practices.
It's also unclear how much impact Newsom's words would have on local health orgnizations. Cal's football players, for example, are still limited to voluntary workouts under spacing protocols imposed by the Alameda County and City of Berkeley health organizations. As a result, Cal has not begun a preseason training camp, which would have to start soon if the Bears are going to start fall football in October or early November.
The Pac-12 announced on August 12 that it was canceling fall football and would not have any sports until at least January 1. However, the Big Ten's announcement Wednesday morning that it has changed its stance and will play football games this fall has put pressure on the Pac-12 to do the same.
In recent days, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott has been optimistic about the Pac-12's chances of starting a fall football season in November based on the addition of a new testing system. The Pac-12 university presidents would have to approve a plan to play football this fall.
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