Less than 24 hours after the Pac-12 Conference made a ground-breaking announcement that it will soon be able to provide its students with daily coronavirus testing, Commissioner Larry Scott is sharing optimism about college football’s imminent return.
On the Dan Patrick Show Friday morning, Scott had some encouraging remarks about the possibility of Pac-12 sports this fall.
“Right now, I’ve got high-degree confidence we’re playing in January,” Scott said. “It’s possible because of this announcement we could play sooner.”
Scott went on to call the partnership with Cailfornia-based Quidel “a game-changer.” Quidel's Sofia 2 testing machine is expected to be available on each Pac-12 campus by the end of this month and will allow the conference's Student-Athlete Health and Well-Being Initiative to conduct large-scale research on the effects of COVID-19.
In October, the conference will begin testing on its student-athletes.
“By being able to test a student-athlete every day before they go into practice or a game, we can have a high degree of confidence that no one at a practice or a game has the coronavirus and could spread it,” Scott said. “So, this is an important step in the path to us reconsidering resumption of play.”
While the Pac-12 may have cleared one hurdle, Scott admits there are still several challenges ahead. Six of the Pac-12’s teams, including Oregon’s two schools Oregon and Oregon State, still lack government approval to have contact practice.
“I know the approvals have been given for pro sports, but not college sports,” Scott said. “So, we’ll need some help from the counties, public health officials, to bless this and say it’s OK.”
[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest LeGarrette Blount].
While the Pac-12 is holding steady on its decision to postpone its college football calendar, the Big Ten’s decision to move football from fall to spring has triggered controversy. Fiery parent protests and a lawsuit from Nebraska players have erupted with players and parents urging for transparency in what led the league’s decision-making process.
If the Big Ten’s decision is not reversed, Scott is optimistic the two conferences can work in tandem.
“If the two of our conferences can move together, we’ve got pretty exciting vision of playing BIG10, Pac-12 seasons, finishing with a Pac-12 Championship, Big Ten Championship and then playing a Rose Bowl, and other bowl games at the end of the season, even if it’s an early spring game.”
Last month, the Pac-12 announced that it was postponing all competitive sports through the calendar year, citing the need for "rapid point of care tests" as part of its decision.
Now that the conference has scored a win with rapid testing, there’s a real possibility the Pac-12 could be playing football and basketball sooner than expected.