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Pac-12, Big Ten Conferences Scrap Fall Seasons Over COVID-19 Pandemic Concerns

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- The Pac-12 Conference announced Tuesday it would postpone all fall sports competitions, hours after the Big 10 Conference issued a similar announcement, because of concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The decisions take two of college football's five power conferences out of a crumbling fall season amid the pandemic.

Members of the Pac-12 CEO Group voted unanimously to postpone all sport competitions through the end of the 2020 calendar year, the decision coming after consultation with athletics directors and with the Pac-12 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee.

"We met with students, we met with our ADs constantly, our coaches, with the medical advisory board," said University of Oregon president Michael Schill, head of the Pac-12 CEO Board. "We listen too all of the views and we determined that there are just too many questions. Too much uncertainty right now that we would be comfortable beginning contact sports."

The Pac-12 also announced that when conditions improve, it would consider a return to competition for impacted sports after the new year.

The conference said student-athletes impacted by the postponement would continue to have their scholarships guaranteed, and it urged the NCAA to grant students who opt out of competition this academic year an additional year of eligibility.

"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," Schill said. "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."

Schill added: "We are science-based, we are academics. We are going to be looking at facts, not just opinions."

"The health, safety and well-being of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports has been our number one priority since the start of this current crisis," said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott in a statement.  "Our student-athletes, fans, staff and all those who love college sports would like to have seen the season played this calendar year as originally planned, and we know how disappointing this is."

Scott said even though pro sports leagues have been able to start up operations, college student-athletes cannot be isolated enough to return to play safely.

"We can not bubble our student-athletes like pro sports can. They are part of broader campus communities. Student-athletes are living with peer students, on campus, interacting," said Scott. "Enough questions and concerns and have been raised. We need more time ... we didn't feel comfortable"

Earlier Tuesday, The Big Ten Conference said its decision to postpone the fall season was based on multiple factors and "relied on the medical advice and counsel of the Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee."

"Our primary responsibility is to make the best possible decisions in the interest of our students, faculty and staff," said Morton Schapiro, Chair of the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors and Northwestern University President.

The fall sports included in the Big Ten's announcement were men's and women's cross country, field hockey, football, men's and women's soccer, and women's volleyball. The conference said it would continue to evaluate a number of options regarding these sports, including the possibility of competition in the spring.

"The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward," said Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren. "As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall."

Also on Tuesday, the Mountain West Conference announced it was also suspending its fall sports season. Other major football conferences, such as the ACC, Big-12 and the SEC have yet to make a decision.

Late last month, the conference, which includes UC Berkeley and Stanford, had planned on a conference-only football schedule that would begin in late September.

The Pac-12 cancellation means this fall will be the first time since World War II that the annual Big Game between Stanford and Cal would not be played. This year's contest was set to be played at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley.


© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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