The Pac-12 CEO Group announced Thursday that it will resume its football, basketball and winter sport seasons. The football season may commence for teams that have the necessary state and local health approvals on Nov. 6, men’s and women’s basketball on Nov. 25 consistent with the NCAA’s official start date for these sports, and other winter sports consistent with the NCAA season dates for those sports. The decision follows a meeting last week where the Pac-12 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee presented its updated health and safety recommendations, along with the CEO Group having reviewed details on the rollout of the previously announced Quidel daily rapid-results testing program.
For universities utilizing daily antigen testing, at least one weekly PCR test will also be administered for each student-athlete, in addition to all positive tests to be confirmed with a PCR test. All testing recommendations will be reviewed and updated as needed on an ongoing basis.
The Aug. 11 decision of the Pac-12 CEO Group to postpone sport competitions was based upon three central concerns: consistent testing capabilities across all Pac-12 universities, the prevalence of the virus in Pac-12 communities and nationally, and concerns related to possible cardiac concerns potentially associated with COVID-19. The decision to resume sport competitions is based upon updated Medical Advisory Committee recommendations that point to material improvements in each of these three areas, along with updated state and local public health guidance, according to the Pac-12.
In addition to the consistent access to sufficient testing across all Pac-12 programs, community prevalence has shown continued improvement in the majority of communities across the Pac-12 footprint. To address concerns regarding potential health outcomes related to the virus, each Pac-12 sports medicine group will be implementing cardiac monitoring protocols for all student-athletes with a positive test. The Pac-12 institutions are also participating in a national COVID-19 cardiac registry which will allow for medical practitioners to monitor closely, and gain greater insight into, potential health outcomes in student-athletes.
No fans will be permitted at any sporting competition taking place on Pac-12 campuses. The decision to not allow fans at competitions will be revisited based upon health and safety considerations in January 2021.
The Pac-12 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee concluded in its updated recommendations that “the conditions for the resumption of contact/competition can be met by the institutions when antigen testing is available on each campus. We believe access to near-daily rapid point of care testing for contact sports will significantly improve our ability to prevent transmission of COVID during higher risk of transmission activities and reduce the risk of travel.”
In the sport of football, Pac-12 universities with the necessary public health approvals may commence practice immediately with a seven game Conference-only season to begin on Nov. 6, and the Pac-12 Championship Game on Dec. 18, enabling Pac-12 teams to be considered for selection by the CFP.
In the sport of men’s and women’s basketball, the season will begin on the NCAA official start date of Nov. 25. Further details regarding basketball schedules will be released in the near future.
For the winter sports of wrestling, women’s gymnastics, and men’s & women’s swimming and diving, each university will determine when practice may commence in accordance with local public health official guidance and the situation on campus. Fall sports for which post-season championships were postponed by the NCAA until the spring will be conducted starting January 2021, with preparation and practice occurring during the fall as permitted by NCAA rules.
In all cases, competition with non-conference opponents will be contingent upon such non-conference opponents implementing minimum testing protocols in accordance with NCAA and Pac-12 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee recommendations.