What seemed inevitable for months has now come to fruition: the Pac-12 is postponing all athletic events, including football and basketball, until at least 2021 because of COVID-19, the conference announced today. For the Washington State Cougars, that means at least seven sports will, at bare minimum, be delayed in to the next calendar year.
Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News reports a vote by the conference presidents and chancellors regarding the delay during a previously scheduled meeting today was unanimous.
“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, via news release. “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 move comes just 12 days after the release of a heavily revised, conference only football schedule. This move had been widely speculated on for more than a week and comes on the heels of some of the conference’s football players issuing a list of demands for the season to go forward at all, a movement that spread across the country earlier this week garnering support from some of the sport’s most prominent athletes, albeit with demands more easily met in the short term.
The conference also included a 12-page guideline for a return to competition, much more than the Big Ten released when they announced their postponement earlier today. The conference also announced all scholarships for athletes would be honored.
“Unlike professional sports, college sports cannot operate in a bubble,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said, via news release. “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.”
The financial consequences of this decision for Washington State are massive. No ticket revenue of any kind and no TV revenue until at least January means they’ll need to plug massive gaps in their athletic department. Expect the conference to more aggressively pursue the loan Wilner reported on last week in an effort to help schools keep their athletic departments afloat as well.
This sucks. So much. Stay healthy and wear a mask.