Amid COVID-19 safety concerns and player protests, the Pac-12 CEO Group voted unanimously to postpone all sports competitions through the end of the 2020 calendar year.
“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,” said University of Oregon President Michael Schill in a statement. “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.”
The Pac-12 is the second Power Five conference to make the decision, as the Big Ten announced its postponement of fall sports just a few hours prior. All student-athletes impacted by this decision will continue to have their scholarships granted, but a decision has yet to be made about granting an additional year of eligibility.
The representatives of the #WeAreUnited movement did not take kindly to the decision, demanding action and citing a lack of communication regarding the cancellation.
“It is obvious that the Pac-12 was woefully unprepared to protect college athlete safety in response to COVID-19 and could not address the basic and essential safety demands made by #WeAreUnited,” the statement alleges. “After haphazardly trying to place the health of college athletes in jeopardy by having a season without safety mandates, the Pac-12 has now abruptly canceled the season with no transparency and no communication with the college athletes impacted.”
Among its existing demands, the group is asking for the preservation of this year’s athletic eligibility and continued access to medical and wellness treatment. Additionally, the players request that all athletic activities be optional until uniform safety standards are enforced throughout the Pac-12.
The Pac-12 Student-Athlete Health and Well-being Board updated its guidelines after the ruling.
“Currently, the availability of frequent, FDA-approved, accurate testing with rapid turn-around time vary at each of the Pac-12 institution locations,” the board said.
In a Zoom webinar discussion regarding the decision, Commissioner Larry Scott assured the media in attendance that sports competition will cease, but athletic-related preparation activities will continue for Pac-12 schools. The enforcement and facilitation of those activities will be in the hands of each university’s athletic program.
UC Berkeley’s leadership, Chancellor Carol Christ and Director of Athletics Jim Knowlton, also addressed the Pac-12’s decision in a statement.
“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,” the statement reads. “Our hearts go out to the student-athletes who will not have the opportunity to compete this fall.”
When public health conditions improve, the Pac-12 said, it will consider a return of the impacted sports after Jan. 1, 2021.