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Pac-12 implementing conference-only schedule for football, fall sports

The Pac-12 will play a conference-only schedule in fall sports, including football, in 2020. (Getty)

A day after the Big Ten announced that football teams and other fall sports teams in the conference were only going to play other Big Ten teams, which resulted in the cancellation of the UW Huskies’ season opener against Michigan, the Pac-12 conference announced that it would also be implementing a schedule that only had conference opponents, and that start dates would be delayed as well due to concerns regarding COVID-19.

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“The Pac-12 CEO Group announced today that the fall season for several Pac-12 sports, including football, men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball, would schedule conference-only games, and that it is delaying the start of mandatory athletic activities, until a series of health and safety indicators, which have recently trended in a negative direction, provided sufficient positive data to enable a move to a second phase of return-to-play activities,” the conference said in a news release. “The CEO Group made clear that it hopes to play football and all other fall sports provided that it can meet the health and safety needs of its student-athletes and obtain appropriate permissions from state and local health authorities. Today’s decision will result in the start dates for the impacted sports being delayed. The decision is effective immediately across all Pac-12 member universities and was made following a meeting of the Pac-12 CEO Group earlier today.”

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said the priority is keeping student-athletes safe, and that the conference’s decisions “have and will be guided by science and date” and that due to increased positive tests across the country in recent days, “it has become clear that we need to provide ourselves with maximum flexibility to schedule, and to delay any movement to the next phase of return-to-play activities.”

In the news release, the conference said students who opt to not participate in sports due to concerns over COVID-19 will not lose their scholarships, and “will remain in good standing with their team.”

For the UW Huskies football team, their first conference game is scheduled against Oregon in Eugene on Oct. 4. For the WSU Cougars football team, they are scheduled to open Pac-12 play on Sept. 26 at Oregon State. The Huskies were scheduled to play Michigan, Sacramento State and Utah State in their three non-conference games, while the Cougars were also set to play Utah State, as well as Houston and Idaho for their non-conference opponents. A new schedule for all fall sports teams should be coming soon.

“The Pac-12 has developed a series of potential fall sport scheduling models including conference-only schedules and delayed season starts,” the Pac-12 said. “Details on conference-only schedules will be announced no later than July 31.”

Follow’s Brandon Gustafson on Twitter.