Pac-12 Commissioner Says Rise in COVID-19 Cases Adds Challenges for 2020 Season

Pac-12 commissioner Larry ScottPhoto by Kirby Lee - USA TODAY Sports

Jake Curtis

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Sott had some ominous news regarding the Cal's football season, according to reports by USA Today and the San Jose Mercury-News.

Speaking on the NCAA Twitter Channel, Scott reportedly said the structure of the 2020 season is still uncertain, although a decision needs to be made soon. He noted the rise of recent COVID-19 cases reduced his optimism that the season will begin as a scheduled. 

The most worrisome of the many possible alternatives Scott offered was a scenario in which a conference could play a season that did not include all schools in the conference.

“There are scenarios where we move as a conference together, and scenarios where not everyone can but most can. To be clear, I’m not saying we would go in that direction. I just want to underscore that we’re looking at everything."

Could the Pac-12 play a football season without Cal? Or Stanford? Or USC? Or UCLA? That still seems unlikely, but a lot of options are still on the table.

The USA Today report noted that USC and UCLA are offering 80 percent of their classes online, and that University of Arizona president Robert Robbins, when recently  asked whether the school would be able to open, said no.  It was reported that the Wildcats have halted their voluntary training routines, at least for the time being.

Cal reported this week that three of its athletes tested positive for the virus, although it is unclear whether any or all were football players.

Scott seemed to suggest that four scenarios were being considered for the 2020 season by the Power Five conferences: 1. playing all 12 games as scheduled, 2. delaying the start of the season, 3. playing conference games only and 4. a spring schedule.

These are the alternatives mentioned more than a month ago, and apparently conferences are no closer to reaching a decision, as noted by this Scott quote in the Mercury-News:

“It could be in the next week that we make a clear pivot, or three weeks from now — either individual schools, conferences or the collective."

Cal plays one of the few college football games schedule to be played in August, with its opener scheduled for August 29 at UNLV. The inference from Scott's words is that game is in jeopardy of not being played as scheduled.

Scott noted that the conferences are prepared to change "on a dime" if the they need to alter their course of action.

USA TODAY provided this telling quote from Scott:

“I think what we've seen over the last few weeks gives us reason to be concerned that when campuses open up, there could be real spikes and pressures on the health care system.. From my perspective, that's really the biggest risk to college sports in the fall.”

The notion that the 2020 college football season will start on time is losing credibility.

Follow Jake Curtis of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jakecurtis53

Find Cal Sports Report on Facebook by searching: @si.calsportsreport

Click the "follow" button in the top right corner to join the conversation on Cal Sports Report on SI. Access and comment on featured stories and start your own conversations and post external links on our community page.