Thursday, the Big Ten announced plans to have all fall sports play only conference opponents, eliminating all non-conference match-ups.
Among the events canceled was Oregon's highly anticipated hosting of Ohio State and Heisman candidate Justin Fields.
Now, the Pac-12 is expected to make the same decision and officially announce an all-conference schedule across all fall athletics in wake of the coronavirus pandemic, per Nicole Auerbach of The Athletic.
Per sources: The Pac-12 is expected to announce today that it is going to play a conference-only slate of games for all sports this fall, from me and @BruceFeldmanCFB. Big Ten did the same thing yesterday.— Nicole Auerbach 😷 (@NicoleAuerbach) July 10, 2020
The Pac-12 plans to become the second football conference to make the decision following in the footsteps of the Big Ten with an announcement expected for later Friday.
UPDATE: The Pac-12 has officially unveiled the conference's plan for the upcoming fall season.
“The health and safety of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports continues to be our number one priority,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. “Our decisions have and will be guided by science and data, and based upon the trends and indicators over the past 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.”
"Competitive sports are an integral part of the educational experience for our student-athletes, and we will do everything that we can to support them in achieving their dreams while at the same time ensuring that their health and safety is at the forefront,” said Michael Schill, Pac-12 CEO Group Chair and President of the University of Oregon.
The conference also said that all student-athletes who choose not to participate in intercollegiate athletics during the coming academic year because of safety concerns about COVID-19 will continue to have their scholarships honored by their university and will remain in good standing with their team.
The Pac-12 has developed a series of potential fall sport scheduling models including Conference-only schedules and delayed season starts and details on Conference-only schedules will be announced no later than July 31.
The Pac-12's course of action will cancel anticipated matchups such as USC vs. Alabama, Oregon State traveling to Oklahoma State, TCU vs California, Colorado at Texas A&M, and Notre Dame's games against USC and Stanford.
Additionally, Oregon's season-opener against potential first-round quarterback Trey Lance and the FCS Champion North Dakota State Bison will also not be played in 2020, if at all.
5:30p.m. UPDATE: According to James Crepea of the Oregonian, Oregon’s AD Rob Mullens says the conference’s plan is to announce details on the updated schedules no later than July 31. And in regards to NDSU, Ohio State, and Hawaii, Mullens said they will be working with all three programs to get those games back on the Ducks' schedule in the future.
Oregon AD Rob Mullens:— James Crepea (@JamesCrepea) July 11, 2020
"The PAC-12 plans to announce details for Conference-only schedules no later than July 31."
On NDSU, Ohio State, Hawaii:
"We will work closely with all three schools to reschedule those games for a future year."
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The move is just the next step in the likely scenario of all conferences keeping athletic competition in-conference to minimize any potential spread of the coronavirus.
For the Pac-12, it makes sense to go this route, especially after marquee out-of-conference games, Michigan vs. Washington and Oregon vs. Ohio State, being canceled for 2020 one day prior to this anticipated announcement.
The Pac-12 had already been in talks of only playing conference games when the Big Ten made their decision, USC head coach Clay Helton said as much back in May.
Now two months later, California, home to a third of the Pac-12 conference, has the most lifetime coronavirus cases among all states with more than 289,000 per the CDC. That's 70,000 more than Florida who has always had lax guidelines for handling the pandemic.
After the Big Ten's call, Bryan Fischer of College Football Talk reported that the Pac-12 was expected to follow suit, and they will.
However, the other four Power-5 conferences were reportedly upset at the Big Ten's decision because they were under the impression a conclusion would be made between all five of them. Now conferences, such as the SEC, reportedly feel forced into a corner where they need to comply and move to an SEC-only schedule.
After the Big Ten's decision, both Oregon Athletic Director Rob Mullens and Washington Athletic Director Jen Cohen announced that the programs are working with their respective Big Ten opponents to reschedule a trip to the Pacific Northwest.
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