Just a day after the Big Ten Conference became the first to make it official, including the cancellation of some marquee non-conference football games, the Pac-12 Conference has followed suit. The conference announced today all fall sports, including football, would play conference only schedules due to the continued health and safety issues related to COVID-19. The decision was made during a previously scheduled meeting of the member institutions’ presidents.
For the Washington State Cougars, this means games against the Houston Cougars, Utah State Aggies and the Battle of the Palouse against the Idaho Vandals will be cancelled. The conference also announced more updates on the scheduling changes, including the possibility of games moving up to fill the now vacated non-conference schedule gaps, will be made by the end of the month.
“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 said in a media release. “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.”
As far as WSU goes, this means volleyball and soccer will also only play Pac-12 opponents this fall. Any student-athletes who choose to not participate over health concerns will have their scholarships honored, according to the conference.
Truthfully though, this feels like a slow peeling of the bandage rather than tearing it off. While it’s understandable the conference will want to kick the can of cancelling seasons down the road as far as possible, with cases rising dramatically in the two states where six of their member institutions are located, including a massive outbreak of the virus in Arizona, cancellation of the season seems inevitable. The conference could, in theory, allow teams from states where the spread is less severe to participate in a different schedule format though that seems somewhat unlikely.
That’s before you get in to the added layer which is the morality of forging ahead with playing these sports when the athletes participated are not compensated with paychecks and any monies made from holding such events go straight back to the institution and their governing conference.
At this point, conference-only seems to be the best case scenario. Brace yourselves for no college football (or volleyball or soccer!) this fall whatsoever.