Pac-12 Announces It Will Only Play Conference Football Games in 2020

Cal will not be playing TCU this seasonPhoto by Mark J. Rebilas - USA TODAY Sports

Jake Curtis

The Pac-12 announced Friday that it will go to a conference-only schedule for football this season.

The announcement, which came following a meeting of Pac-12 athletics directors, university presidents and conference officials, is not a surprise and comes one day after the Big Ten made a similar announcement.

For Cal, this means its first three games -- a road game against UNLV scheduled for August 29, and home games against TCU on Sept. 5 and Cal Poly on Sept. 12 -- will not be played. In addition to its current Pac-12 schedule, Cal may try to schedule games against the two Pac-12 opponents not currently on the Golden Bears' 2020 schedule -- Colorado and Arizona.

The announcement means key nonconference games will be canceled, including Oregon vs. Ohio State, Washington vs. Michigan, USC vs. Alabama, USC vs. Notre Dame and Stanford vs. Notre Dame.

The ACC is also expected to announce that it will play conference-only games, according to Brett McMurphy's Stadium. McMurphy added the ACC would assist Notre Dame with as many games as it needed is all Power 5 conference go with conference-onl shedules.

In any case, the start date of the Pac-12 football season will be delayed. Cal's first scheduled conference game is Sept. 26 against Utah in Berkeley, and if the schedule does not change further, that game would represent the Bears' season opener. Details on conference-only schedules will be announced no later than July 31.

However, this announcement does not guarantee that college football will be played in 2020. It is still possible that the season could be canceled, delayed or moved to the spring.

The decision affects several Pac-12 sports besides football, including men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball.

The Pac-12 also announced that it is delaying the start of mandatory athletic activities until a series of health and safety indicators show that it is safe to move to a second phase of return-to-play activities. 

So far the conference has only allowed athletes to participate in voluntary workouts. The second phase would be mandatory workouts and the third phase would be preseason training camp. The second and third phases would have to be completed before games can be played.

The Pac-12 CEO Group made clear that it hopes to play football and all other fall sports provided that it can meet the health and safety needs of its student-athletes and obtain appropriate permissions from state and local health authorities.

Gaining the support of state and local authorities may be an issue for Cal since the state of California, Alameda County and the City of Berkeley have been slow to reopen businesses during the COVID-19 pandemc, especially with the recent rise in cases.

The conference also noted that Pac-12 athletes who choose not to participate in intercollegiate athletics this season because of safety concerns about COVID-19 will continue to have their scholarships honored by their university and will remain in good standing with their team.

“The health and safety of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports continues to be our number one priority,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott 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.”

"Competitive sports are an integral part of the educational experience for our student-athletes, and we will do everything that we can to support them in achieving their dreams while at the same time ensuring that their health and safety is at the forefront,” said Michael Schill, Pac-12 CEO Group Chair and President of the University of Oregon.

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