The Pac-12 is eyeing “mid-to-late November” for its return to sports, according to ESPN.
ESPN’s report characterized that timeframe as the Pac-12’s “most aggressive” plan, citing the implementation of rapid COVID-19 testing and public health delays in California and Oregon as reasons why the league needs a bit more time to safely return to action.
Earlier this month, the Pac-12 announced a partnership with a testing company that will allow it to test its athletes for COVID-19 on a daily basis. Per ESPN, those testing systems will be in place on Pac-12 campuses “by the end of the month” with proper training for university medical staffs to follow.
Back in August when the Pac-12 announced the postponement of fall sports, it said it would not be able to resume play in any sports, including winter sports like basketball, before at least Jan. 1, 2021. But the rapid testing advancement pushed the timeline forward, according to commissioner Larry Scott.
Comparatively, the Big Ten is looking at dates like Oct. 17 or 24 for its return, according to Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel. But states in the Big Ten footprint aren’t facing issues on quite the same scale as those out West.
Public health officials in both California and Oregon have not given the green light for universities in those states to even hold contact practices, so full-scale football games are clearly not an option at this point. Six of the Pac-12’s members are located in those states: California, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA and USC.
Until those schools get the green light (The Mercury News reported an excellent and very detailed breakdown Monday of how that could come to fruition) from their states, the Pac-12 cannot begin the process of resuming play. Should that crucial step occur, Scott has said that the league’s football coaches prefer six weeks of training to prepare for the season.
“Some of this is still outside of our control in terms of public health authorities being comfortable with the kind of contact required for football practice, training camp, as you know we’ve been really clear and full and open and transparent that we need a full six weeks in the sport of football to feel safe and to mitigate the possibility of injuries,” Scott said Sept 3.
Meanwhile, teams in the ACC and Big 12 began their seasons over the weekend. SEC play is slated to begin on Sept. 26. If the Big Ten votes to restart, the Pac-12 would be the lone Power Five conference remaining on the sideline.
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