PALO ALTO, Calif. - Pac-12 football, all sports, are canceled this season because of health concerns from the coronavirus pandemic. The hope is play will return in the spring.
Both Stanford and UC Berkeley expressed their disappointment on Tuesday. Officials said there were too many questions, too much uncertainty for contact sports to commence and now is not the right time.
“Obviously, this was a tough day and I feel for our student athletes,” said Cal Athletic Director Jim Knowlton.
Knowlton said he’s in complete support of the Pac 12’s decision to postpone fall sports until next year.
“We just didn’t feel at this point in time that moving into competitions for our student athletes was the right thing to do,” said Knowlton.
It’s the first time the Pac-12 conference has made that decision since its inception a century ago. The vote was unanimous.
“Enough questions and concerns and answers we needed more time on,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott.
The move is in alignment with the “Big Ten,” another powerhouse conference, which cancelled its fall sports. Pac-12’s medical experts cited health risks that the coronavirus posed to players, fears of community spread on campus and links to a cardiac condition.
“In the end, we looked at the recent cardiac evidence,” said Pac-12 CEO Group Chairman Michael Schill. “We looked at spread which was increasing in some of our areas. We looked at government directives.”
“Today’s decision is disappointing for many people, but none more so than our student-athletes, who have worked so hard for many years to reach this point in their pursuits,” said Stanford Athletic Director Bernard Muir.
Scholarships are guaranteed for players impacted and another year of eligibility.
Besides crushed dreams for the athletes, the decision has financial ramifications each of the conference's athletic departments set to lose $50 million from ticket sales and television contracts.
“We’ve developed a lot of different models to get to a potential $50 million shortfall,” said Knowlton. “There will certainly be some personnel actions we will have to take. We don't know how severe they will have to be.”
Cal has no plans to cut any of its 30 sports, hopeful for a comeback in the spring.
Three other big conferences, the ACC, Big 12 and SEC may attempt to play in the fall.