The Band is on the Field - Not in 2020 as the Pac-12 Cancels All Fall Sports

The Cal marching band won't be taking the field at Memorial Stadium this fall.Photo by Neville E. Guard, USA Today

Jeff Faraudo

Cal’s dreams for a breakthrough football season this fall have been put on hold.

The Pac-12 Conference, following shortly after news out of the Big Ten, made the announcement Tuesday afternoon that it has canceled all fall sports because of the COVID-19 pandemic and hopes to reschedule for the spring of 2021. No sports competition will be held sooner than Jan. 1, 2021.

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Knowlton statement
Cal Athletics' statement on Pac-12 canceling fall sports

The decision was made at a meeting of the Pac-12 CEO group — presidents and chancellors — convened at 11 a.m. The Pac-12 said the decision among CEO members was unanimous.

“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," said Michael H. Schill, president of the University of Oregon.

FBS conferences that now have shut down fall sports are the Pac-12, Big Ten, Mountain West and the Mid-American Conference, which was the first to do so on Saturday.

There was no immediate word from the Big 12, SEC or ACC.

The Pac-12 already had eliminated all non-conference competition for the fall, and had pushed back the start of football play until Sept. 26. Cal was scheduled to visit Oregon State in its opening game that day.

The Bears, who have 17 starters back from an 8-5 team, were expected to challenge Washington for second place in the Pac-12 North behind favored Oregon.

Now it’s unclear if and when we will again have football.

Also gone this fall are men’s and women’s soccer, cross country, men’s water polo, women’s volleyball, men’s tennis and women’s field hockey.

Football was expected to be played without fans in stadiums, but Pac-12 officials, following the advice of their medical experts, opted on the side of caution and postponed the season.

Here is the Pac-12's statement on its decision:

SAN FRANCISCO - The Pac-12 CEO Group voted unanimously to postpone all sport competitions through the end of the 2020 calendar year.

The decision was made after consultation with athletics directors and with the Pac-12 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee who expressed concern with moving forward with contact practice. The report and updated guidelines of the Committee can be found here: Pac-12 COVID-19 Return to Play Considerations – Aug. 10, 2020 and a full list of Committee members can be found here: Pac-12 Medical Advisory Committee. 

The Conference also announced that when conditions improve, it would consider a return to competition for impacted sports after January 1, 2021.Student-athletes impacted by the postponement will continue to have their scholarships guaranteed. 

Additionally, the Pac-12 Conference strongly encourages that the NCAA grant students who opt out of competition this academic year an additional year of eligibility. As part of their guaranteed scholarships, they will continue to have university support, including academic advising and tutoring, among other support services.“

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,” said Michael H. Schill, president of the University of Oregon. 

“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 health, safety and well-being of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports has been our number one priority since the start of this current crisis,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. “Our student-athletes, fans, staff and all those who love college sports would like to have seen the season played this calendar year as originally planned, and we know how disappointing this is.”

Scott noted that while the Conference’s detailed plan to keep student-athletes safe was working in accordance with the Pac-12 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee guidelines and state and local government orders, the situation was becoming more challenging: 

“Unlike professional sports, college sports cannot operate in a bubble,” he said. “Our athletic programs are a part of broader campuses in communities where in many cases the prevalence of COVID-19 is significant. We will continue to monitor the situation and when conditions change we will be ready to explore all options to play the impacted sports in the new calendar year.”

“We know that this is a difficult day for our student-athletes, and our hearts go out to them and their families,” added Scott. “We have made clear that all of their scholarships will be guaranteed, and that as a Conference we are strongly encouraging the NCAA to grant them an additional year of eligibility.”

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