Pac-12 joins Big Ten in eliminating nonconference games this fall

The Pac-12 Conference announced Friday it would only play conference games for fall sports this year, including football, men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball.

The Pac-12 has become the second major conference to shift to a conference-only fall schedule amid growing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

The announcement came after a meeting of the Pac-12 CEO Group on Friday, a day after the Big Ten opted to eliminate nonconference games for all fall sports.

“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.”

Pac-12 student-athletes who choose not to participate in intercollegiate athletics this year will still have their scholarships honored, the conference said.

"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 Pac-12 Conference is also delaying the start of mandatory athletic activities until a series of health and safety indicators become more positive.

The Big Ten became the first Power Five league to shift to an all-conference fall schedule as the college sports world faces difficult decisions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Atlantic Coast, Big 12 and Southeastern conferences are still weighing options for fall sports.

A conference-only schedule allows schools to cut down on expenses at a time when athletic departments are facing massive budget constraints.

The college sports world has been put on hold since the coronavirus pandemic wiped up the lucrative NCAA basketball tournaments and all spring sports. Athletes recently began returning to campuses for voluntary workouts, but many schools have scaled back as more than a dozen schools have reported positive COVID-19 tests among athletes in the past month.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.