Pac-12 announces conference-only schedule for football, volleyball and soccer

Ryan Kostecka

It appears that the Pac-12 conference is doing everything in its power to have a fall sports season.

To help keep safe its athletes, coaches and programs, the conference announced on Friday that the fall sports seasons for football, volleyball and soccer would consist of conference-only games.

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

The new schedules are set to be announced no later than July 31 according to the statement from the conference.

Yes, that means that heated rivalry with BYU will have to be put on hold for at least one season.

“While we support the Pac-12 Conference's decision today to only play conference games this fall in football, volleyball and soccer, we are disappointed for our student-athletes, coaches and fans," said Mark Harlan, Utah's Director of Athletics. "We know it is particularly difficult to miss the rivalry matchups with BYU in these sports, and we look forward to continuing those as soon as we are able. These are truly unprecedented times, and we are working diligently to determine appropriate solutions while prioritizing the health and safety of everyone involved. Our conference and university leadership has provided great support and direction, informed by leading health experts and data. We will work with our colleagues at each of the non-conference institutions impacted by today's decision to reschedule those contests, and we will provide more information about our schedules and our home events when they become available."

The Pac-12 did say that any student-athlete who chooses not to participate in their respective season this academic year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and its respective safety concerns, they shall remain on scholarship and in good-standing with their respective teams.

In football, Utah will lose out on home games with BYU and Montana State and a road trip north to face Wyoming. While this scenario would seem that Utah would now only have a nine-game football schedule, including just four home games, Harlan says there are multiple scenarios still on the board.

“We know that every game with season-ticket revenue is a lot of money, so any lost home games certainly would be, from a financial standpoint, damaging,” Harlan said. “We’re so blessed to have such a high season-ticket base on a year-by-year basis, including this year with so many people renewing. For us any game — whether it’s a conference or nonconference — is a highly attended event. So certainly it would be damaging if we have less than six home games.”

Harlan confirmed that one of the options is having the Pac-12 play an 11-game schedule this season. This would allow each team to play every other in the conference at least once. Currently, Utah is scheduled to miss both Oregon and Stanford.

As for soccer and volleyball, both programs were originally scheduled to play multiple nonconference games prior to their conference play beginning. But with the rule change, it's hard to determine how many times the Utes will play each program and what the season could potentially look like.

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