In a move that has been seen as inevitable for days (if not longer) the Pac-12 will announce today that they will be cancelling athletic competition for all through the end of calendar year 2020.
The news comes just a few weeks after the Pac-12 put out an alternate schedule which tried to account for the current COVID-19 pandemic by delaying the start of the season an extra few weeks.
The big change appears to have been a presentation by the Pac-12 medical advisory group made up of physicians from member institutions’ medical centers. In recent days there has been increasing talk about the risk of myocarditis from those who contract COVID-19 and survive. The condition if left undiscovered can leave even healthy young adults at risk for sudden cardiac arrest when the heart is stressed by exercise. ESPN released a piece on the subject yesterday which included substantial information provided by the University of Washington Medical Center’s sports medicine cardiologist. He notes the need for cardiac monitoring in order to feel at all comfortable about playing football. The Pac-12 shared the 12-page document with the complete medical recommendations of the group for approving a return to play.
This appears to be the first fall the Huskies have not played a football game since a team was first formed in 1891. In 1943 the rest of the PCC’s northern division did not field a team but Washington played a 5-game schedule that included 2 games against Spokane Air Command, 1 game against Whitman, and 1 game against March Field before getting shut out by USC in the Rose Bowl.
There are still a number of unanswered questions that will have to be addressed in the coming days, weeks, and months. Among them... Can teams still practice in the fall? Will any draft-eligible players stick around to participate? How will scholarship situations work for players who were planning on graduating early to enroll Winter quarter? Will there be a later than normal signing period inserted to give players a chance to see teams perform on the field/take visits? Is it justifiable to give players a less than 6-month offseason between the spring and the upcoming fall? And of course will the pandemic be any better over the next several months?
Pac-12 will try and play football in spring “if (COVID) conditions improve, we will try,” source told @Stadium— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) August 11, 2020
While the focus will undoubtedly be on football it should be recognized this includes all fall sports. Basketball non-conference is gone although that would likely have become conference-only no matter what. Volleyball and soccer also will either have to be postponed to spring or outright having a season lost like softball and baseball were in the spring.
All things considered this is likely the middle road approach. The concerns over testing capacity, mixing students on campus with athletes, and the potential long-term health effects of COVID-19 survivors made it difficult to imagine getting all the way through a fall season. The odds of getting through an entire schedule or close to it are better in the spring when some of those concerns have more concrete answers than right now whether you think the odds are good or close to 0% no matter what.
#Pac12 Commissioner, Larry Scott reiterates:— Jessamyn McIntyre (@JessamynMcIntyr) August 11, 2020
"The student athletes are going to continue to receive their scholarships and support from their universities...we are deeply committed to continue to support our student athletes."
This sucks for a variety of reasons. I feel sorry for the players some of whom really needed another season of tape to have a chance at the NFL and who will likely have to choose between prepping for the draft and playing it out. I feel sorry for the coaching staff who have been itching for 8 months now to prove they can live up to Coach Pete’s standards. Obviously I also feel sorry for us, the fans, who love supporting the team and the university who face the prospect of dark rainy Saturdays with no college football.
We’ll of course have more on this as it develops and we’ll be figuring out how to continue to provide content for you as we face the prospect of a full 12+ months without Husky football.