Report: Pac-12 Football Could Return in Mid-November in 'Most Aggressive' Plan

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 14, 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 has formulated a plan in which its sporting events could resume in mid-to-late November, according to ESPN's Heather Dinich

The conference announced in August it was suspending all fall and winter sports until at least Jan. 1, 2021. However, on Sept. 3, the conference announced a deal with Quidel Corporation that would allow for daily, rapid-results COVID-19 testing for student-athletes in "close-contact sports."

"This is a very important and significant step, but there are other considerations that will go into our return-to-play plans," Scott said of the development.

Dinich noted the necessary personnel will need time to familiarize themselves with the testing equipment when it arrives, and other factors will need to be considered:

"Schools in the states of California and Oregon still have not been cleared by public health officials to resume contact practices, let alone games. The league's presidents and chancellors wouldn't consider a vote to return until that status changes. Ideally, the Pac-12 would like its teams to have six weeks to practice and physically prepare for the season, the source said."

The Pac-12 hasn't faced much internal scrutiny as a result of its decision to put sports on hold amid the global pandemic. Scott largely succeeded in getting the important parties on board.

The Big Ten, by contrast, has faced resistance and criticism from numerous groups, including the athletes themselves, parents of athletes and prominent coaches.

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Dinich and Adam Rittenberg reported Sunday that Big Ten presidents and chancellors met on a videoconference to receive an update on the league's possible resumption.

"One of the main differences for the presidents to consider now is the new availability of at least four rapid- response antigen testing options that could allow Big Ten teams to test daily for COVID-19 and significantly decrease the amount of necessary contact tracing," the report said.

The 2020 college football season is already entering Week 3, with the SEC slated to open play on Sept. 26.

Getting on the same timeline as the SEC, ACC and Big 12 would be impossible for either conference. A late fall start for the Big Ten or Pac-12 would at least likely allow for a limited season that didn't significantly disrupt players' preparations for the 2021 NFL draft.