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The Pac-12 cancels the 2020 fall football season

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It’s over — USC’s re-emergence into a national powerhouse will have to wait another year

UCLA v USC Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The Pac-12 has officially announced that the 2020 fall football season has been cancelled. According to Stadium’s Brett McMurphy, he was informed that official announcement was scheduled for Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott’s 1:30 PM PT press conference.

That means no USC Trojans football in 2020.

The growing safety concerns and rising knowledge of the long-term impact of the coronavirus are ultimately what led to the cancellation of the Pac-12 football season this fall. It has been only hours since the Pac-12 had ‘an eye-opening experience’ after speaking with doctors who informed them of the link between myocarditis and COVID-19. Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle often associated with viral infections and been linked closely to COVID-19. It is quoted to “come on suddenly and often with significant severity, resulting in an exceptionally high risk of death caused by cardiogenic shock (the heart’s inability to pump enough blood), fatal arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats) and multiorgan failure,” according to the American Heart Association.

USC and the 11 other member universities all voted the same way, and all voted against athletic competition this fall. The earliest any university can resume athletic competition is January 1, 2021.


Y’all. This wasn’t supposed to be this hard.

We all know why this has been done, it’s due to the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. It also came to a head this past Monday when Pac-12 presidents and chancellors had an ‘eye-opening’ experience when Pac-12 doctors informed them of the condition myocarditis. According to the doctors, Pac-12 officials were told of the linkage between the condition and COVID-19, especially in younger individuals.

Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle often associated with viral infections and been linked closely to COVID-19. It is quoted to “come on suddenly and often with significant severity, resulting in an exceptionally high risk of death caused by cardiogenic shock (the heart’s inability to pump enough blood), fatal arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats) and multiorgan failure,” according to the American Heart Association.

The Big Ten became the first of the Power-5 Conferences to postpone the 2020 fall sports season, doing so at 2:45 PM ET, citing that their “primary responsibility is to make the best possible decisions in the interest of our students, faculty and staff,” according to a statement from Morton Schapiro, Chair of the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors.

Their decision included football as well as men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball.

Their goal at the Big Ten was to play those seasons in the spring.

Say what you will about the Pac-12, but the Big Ten showed their own troubles during this process. It was stated on Monday that they were cancelling their season, but due to public outrage, they backed off their word and then let us wonder for 24 hours before making the same decision ‘official’ and public.

Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel also stated that the conference had began to discuss what would happen if the season wasn’t played as late as Sunday night, but not any sooner.

With the Pac-12 and Big Ten officially done for in 2020, that’s now nearly the majority of the nation’s universities at the major college football level that have cancelled or postponed their seasons. The Pac-12, Big Ten, MAC and Mountain West as well as Independent Schools UConn and UMass and Conference-USA’s Old Dominion account for 52 of the 130 FBS teams.

The fate of the college football season happening in 2020 now relies on the Big 12’s decision as reportedly, the SEC is favoring a continuation of playing this fall, but will need the Big 12 to come with them.


The Pac-12’s cancellation, of course, comes just a few short weeks after they announced a conference-only schedule, consisting of 10 games for each of the 12 member universities.

The Pac-12 CEO Group was unanimous. Scott claimed that the health, safety and wellness of their student-athletes across the conference was paramount in the decision process.

Scott also said that scholarships will be guaranteed through the process as well.

Incoming quotes of note from the Pac-12 CEO Group press conference:

Pac-12 CEO Group Chair and Oregon president Michael Schill says: “No. 1 consideration is health and safety of the student-athletes.”

“There are too many questions, too many concerns to begin contact sports.”

“Put a pause until 2021 and we’ll constantly be updating the data.”

“We’re science-based, we’re going to be looking at facts not just opinions.”

“We fully understand that this has had tremendous human impact. We have students that have dreamt of playing and that won’t be happening. We have families, we have coaches, we have all sorts of people that were hoping that we could do this. That’s one of the reasons that we’ve delayed the decision until now.”

“In the end, we’ve looked at the spread, which is increasing, we’ve looked at the cardiac risks, and there’s too much involved there. We’re going to be trying to play in the spring.”

Ray Anderson “Our responsibilities are not about liabilities. We’re not driven by lawyers who say ‘we’ll relieve you of liability,’ we have our responsibilities to protect these student-athletes.”

Scott: “It’s important to give clarity to the student-athletes. It’s important to give some of them some clarity. That’s why we said January 1, so that way they can plan, physically and mentally.”

“We’re going to dig back in, ADs, coaches, athletes, to continue our scenario planning. We’ve got Scenario A, B, C, D, E.”

“As soon as we feel more comfortable, we’re going to want to play.”

Oregon State senior associate athletic director for sports medicine Dr. Doug Aukerman: “We still don’t know what the short- and long-term effects of the coronavirus are yet ... Our student-athletes are students, they’re going to interact with the community and we want them to. It’s not appropriate to bubble them. Or isolate them.”

Schill: “In the Pac-12, we view ourselves as the most progressive of the conferences. We plan ahead. We care deeply about our students and their welfare. And we always put that as priority No. 1.”

When asked what was next for the student-athletes, Scott said:

“The student-athletes are going to continue to receive their scholarship and support from their universities. Each campus athletic director and department will decide exactly what that looks like. We’re deeply committed to support our student-athletes.”

Anderson reiterated the fact that the goal is to play again, when asked what the thought process was about protecting student-athletes from potential transfer.

“We will play again, if they want to come try to recruit them, we say have at it, because we feel that the student-athletes will appreciate what we’ve done for them.”

Eligibility issues have also been brought up, and Scott was the one to field the question.

“We are strongly encouraging the NCAA to make decisions as quickly as possible about eligibility. If they don’t get to play a season, we’ll do what we can to get (retain) that year.”

Scott took on the question about lengthening the delay in starting this fall.

“We did have eight-game scenarios starting in October, those were available to us. But as we looked at the projections and trends, we came to the conclusion, reluctantly, that there is a likelihood that nothing changes. We’ve been taking a measured approach, letting public health guidelines guide us.”

Football issues aside, the start of the basketball season is another big area of discussion and Scott said there is still a lot of work to be done regarding the start of that and getting in a possible 20- or more game season.

“We’ve got to go back to work with our working group, our specific basketball working group. Part of our decisions will come from what the NCAA decides on March Madness. It’s just one of the many things that we have to get to work on.”

Myocarditis was brought up, and about what could change before the spring:

“Certainly we’ll know who has more short-term complications, and we’ll know more by the spring about the percentage of student-athletes that it can attack,” Aukerman said. “What will change by spring, is the prevalence, how easy we’ll be able to test for it, the technology to do even more testing and rapid testing. A decrease in the presence of COVID in our environment can happen by now, as long as our communities work on it.”


So, what’s next? Scott was asked if he imagined a scenario in which half the country played football and the other half did not.

“Everyone’s going to make their own, independent decisions,” Scott said. “We’re trying to figure it out the best way we can, with our student-athletes health in mind.”

“And we appreciate that everyone’s going to be a bit different.”