Pac-12 Cancels Fall Football Season, Hopes to Reschedule to Spring

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 11, 2020

FILE - In this Aug. 29, 2019, file photo, the Pac-12 logo is displayed on the field at Sun Devil Stadium during an NCAA college football game between Arizona State and Kent State in Tempe, Ariz. As the wealthiest conferences  like the Pac-12 lay out plans they hope will protect athletes from contracting and spreading COVID-19, most of the schools in the second-tier of Division I football have given up on trying to play in the fall. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso, File)
Ralph Freso/Associated Press

The Pac-12 announced Tuesday it has canceled its fall football season amid the COVID-19 pandemic, becoming the second Power Five conference to do so.

Yahoo Sports' Pete Thamel and Stadium's Brett McMurphy first reported the news.

Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger reported the vote was unanimous among Pac-12 schools.

The news comes hours after the Big Ten announced it is postponing fall sports with the possibility of picking them back up in the spring.

Dellenger provided one rough timeline for spring football thrown around by Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby:

Dan Patrick reported Monday that the Big Ten and Pac-12 were expected to confirm a formal postponement, with more Power Five conferences to potentially follow.

After the Big Ten took the plunge, the question became when rather than if another conference would join it.

The health of players and staffers is a major consideration for university and conference administrators who have to decide on the fate of college sports for this season.

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ESPN's Paula Lavigne and Mark Schlabach reported some concern centers on myocarditis, a heart condition that might be linked with COVID-19. If it isn't treated, myocarditis can cause heart damage or cardiac arrest.

According to Thamel, officials inside the Pac-12 "got a sobering medical perspective" Monday night:

A number of United States-based sports leagues have moved their athletes and personnel to central locations to stage games. For the most part, the approach has worked to limit the spread of the coronavirus because health officials can closely monitor and rigorously test those inside the "bubble."

The Big Ten and Pac-12 may have been able to use that approach to salvage football this fall. However, doing so might jeopardize the NCAA's longstanding position that athletes are amateurs. Schools couldn't isolate athletes from the general student body while arguing they're no different from traditional students.

Now that the Big Ten and Pac-12 are ruling out fall football, the focus turns to two topics for those conferences: how many more athletes opt out to focus on the 2021 draft and whether any teams attempt to jump ship.

Nebraska head coach Scott Frost and Ohio State head coach Ryan Day both alluded to the idea their squads could leave the Big Ten in order to play this year.

Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren sidestepped a question on that topic during an interview Tuesday on Big Ten Network:

Just last week, the Big Ten rolled out its conference-only schedule for the 2020 college football season. Now, two of the Power Five conferences have given up hope of games in the fall. That's how quickly the situation evolved once administrators began to fully grasp the implications of the pandemic.

It's impossible to know how the next few months—or even weeks—will unfold for the rest of the FBS.