Pac-12 postpones 2020 sports, including football

Move comes after days of speculation and could unravel the 2020 college football season.

The Pac-12 Conference announced Tuesday it is postponing all 2020 sports competitions—including football and basketball—with the hope of playing football in the spring. This is the first time in more than 100 years the Pac-12 or its predecessor conferences has canceled a football season.

The Pac-12 CEO Group, the collection of the conference’s member-universities’ chancellors and presidents, voted unanimously to postpone all sports competition through the end of the 2020 calendar year, which will also include the start of college basketball.

“We know that this is a difficult day for our student-athletes, and our hearts go out to them and their families,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in a prepared statement. “We have made clear that all of their scholarships will be guaranteed, and that as a Conference we are strongly encouraging the NCAA to grant them an additional year of eligibility.”

“We are aligned in our support for the Pac-12’s decision to postpone fall sports. While the decision was difficult, it is consistent with our shared commitment to the health and well-being of Cal’s student-athletes, coaches and staff,” University of California, Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ and Cal Athletics Director Jim Knowlton said in a joint statement following the Pac-12 Conference’s announcement.

The decision comes after the Big Ten Conference said it would postpone fall season play Tuesday, due to concerns about Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The conference is planning on a spring 2021 start for football.

Earlier, Sports Illustrated reported further cancellation announcements were coming early this week as some “Power Five” conferences worked on a uniform response this past weekend. Pat Forde and Ross Dellenger cited unnamed sources, who said the Big Ten would be the first “Power Five” league to postpone its football season.

The Mid-American Conference was the first Football Bowl Subdivision conference to postpone its fall sports season in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic on Saturday. The conference canceled its 2020 football season, as well as other fall sports competition and post-season championship play, at the urging of Northern Illinois University.

The Mountain West Conference canceled its football season Monday, becoming the second FBS league to opt not to play out of health and safety concerns. According to sports network Stadium, the conference left open the possibility of a spring start for football.

Meanwhile, the Atlantic Coast and Southeastern Conferences indicated Monday they expect to play football in the fall.

An unnamed ACC official told CBS News, the conference “absolutely” intends on playing. The East Coast conference recently shared an 11-game football schedule, which included 10 conference games and the addition of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the in-conference slate, with games beginning as early as Sept. 10.

“Can we play? I don't know. We haven't stopped trying,” Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey said on Twitter Monday in response to news about the Big Ten Conference alleged imminent cancellation, implying his conference was on track for a fall start for football.

Beginning this past weekend, different student-athletes and college football coaches across the country, including from the Pac-12 Conference, expressed a desire to play this fall with the hashtag #WeWantToPlay on social media.

On Monday, President Donald Trump lent his support to the movement, saying on Twitter: “The student-athletes have been working too hard for their season to be canceled.” The President also shared the #WeWantToPlay hashtag and Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence’s tweet.

The Pac-12 Conference recently unveiled an abbreviated, 10-game conference-only football schedule scheduled to begin on Sept. 26. At the time, the conference bragged it had built-in “maximum flexibility,” including “open” and bye weeks for rescheduling any postponed games and early scheduled rivalry games for Arizona and Los Angeles schools, current Covid-19 hot spots.

Cal was to start its football season on Sept. 26 in Corvallis, Ore., against the Oregon State Beavers. The Golden Bears earned five votes in the 2020 Preseason Coaches Poll—good enough to tie for No. 42 in the national ranking.